How much money you'll receive if you qualify for disability benefits will depend on whether your application was for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) or SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance).
The full monthly federal benefit for an SSI recipient is fixed, subject to annual increases. In 2021, the federal base payment is $794 (up from $783 in 2020). For a couple where both spouses receive SSI, the monthly payment is $1,191 in 2021 (up from $1,175 in 2020).
You will receive more than this amount if your state pays an extra state supplemental payment or less than this if you make any income or live with someone who pays for your food and/or shelter. For more information on supplemental payments and how income is counted, see our article on how much SSI pays.
In contrast, the monthly benefit for a Social Security disability recipient depends on prior earnings: how much and how long you worked and paid into the Social Security system. The average monthly payment in 2021 is $1,277, and the most you can receive is $3,148.
Unlike with SSI payments, Social Security won't count any income against you to lower your SSDI benefit. The only reduction that may be taken from your SSDI benefit is for an offset for workers' comp benefits or an offset for temporary state disability benefits. (VA benefits will not reduce your SSDI benefit.)
Also, states don't add extra money to SSDI benefits as some states do with SSI. Because of these factors, SSDI is a fixed monthly payment; it won't go up or down except for once per year, if there is a cost-of-living adjustment in December. For more information, see our article on how much SSDI pays.
In neither case (SSI or SSDI), does the disability payment you receive depend on how disabled you are (unlike other programs for injured or disabled persons, such as workers' compensation and veterans disability).
Most disability applicants who are approved for benefits also receive some type of back payments or retroactive disability benefits. The amount of backpay you'll get depends on whether you get SSDI or SSI, when you applied for disability, and when your disability began. For more information, see our section on Social Security disability back payments.
Updated May 20, 2021