If you are disabled, you are probably considering how much you can expect to receive from Social Security for a disability benefit. There is a maximum amount, which is usually adjusted every year. For 2019, the maximum amount is $2,861 a month. It might increase again depending on whether there is a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for next year.

Few people receive the maximum amount in disability benefits, however. Instead, the amount you receive will be based on your earnings. Below, a Tacoma, WA Social Security disability attorney explains how the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines the amount of disability benefits.

The Information SSA Uses

SSDI benefits are based on the amount of money you made over your lifetime. The two important factors are how long you have worked and how much you have paid into the Social Security system.

SSA first needs to determine how many years of earnings count. These are called your “covered earnings.” When you retire, SSA will look at 35 years of earnings. However, most disabled people have not worked 35 years and there is no requirement that you do.

Instead, to calculate your covered earnings for disability, SSA will start with age 22 and then count the number of years that passed before you were disabled. So if you were disabled at 40, there are 18 years. SSA will then subtract the lesser of:

  • One fifth the number of years, rounded down, or
  • 5 years

So, in our example, SSA will count 15 years, because one-fifth of 18 is 3.6, rounded down to 3. Three years are then subtracted from 18, which gives you 15 years for covered earnings. SSA will look at your 15 highest-earning years and use that amount to calculate your “average indexed monthly earnings” (AIME).

Your monthly disability benefit is based on your AIME. In 2019, the calculation was as follows:

  • 90% of the first $926, plus
  • 32% of any amount between $926 and $5,583, plus
  • 15% of any AIME above $5,397, up to the maximum allowed.

Don’t Like Math?

There is a quick and painless way to check your disability benefit amount. Create an account at the SSA.gov website and then look at estimated benefits. It should list a monthly amount for disability. As you continue to work and earn more money, the amount of your benefits should probably change.

What is the Maximum Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

You might also qualify for SSI, which is for people with few resources. In 2019, the maximum will be $771 for an individual and $1,157 if the individual also has an eligible spouse.

Speak with a Tacoma Social Security Disability Attorney

The process for obtaining SSDI or SSI benefit can be full of hidden landmines. If you have a question or if you need help obtaining benefits, contact Alliance Law Group today. One of our Tacoma Social Security disability lawyers can meet with you to review your options.

Please call 253-581-0660. You can schedule a free initial consultation, where we will be happy to discuss the amount of disability benefits you might qualify for.