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What Is My Social Security Disability Benefit Amount?


The first information a person who files a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim wants to know is how much they will receive in their monthly benefit payment if they get the disability claim approved. And that’s as it should be. The SSD benefit program is designed to provide needed financial support to people who worked hard for many years and paid into the program.

Claimants have a right to know as soon as possible what their benefit amount will be so they can look ahead and determine what living expenses they will be able to meet. The SSD program does not replace a disabled worker’s income dollar for dollar.

In fact, people are often surprised to learn that the amount they receive in monthly Social Security Disability benefits is exactly the same amount they will receive in Social Security Retirement benefits when they reach their full retirement age. At London Disability Advocates for Social Security Disability, and londondisability.com, we believe in keeping all of our client’s fully informed about every aspect of the SSD claim.

How Social Security Determines Your Disability Benefit Amount

Before calculating the disability claimant’s benefit amount, Social Security first confirms two basic facts. First, it looks at the claimant’s work history to ensure they have accumulated enough work credits to be eligible for benefits. Second, the government confirms that the benefits applicant has an impairment that qualifies as a disability. Once those two steps are completed, determining the amount of the claimant’s monthly benefit is next.

Find Claimant’s 35 Highest Earning Years

To begin the process of calculating a disability claimant’s benefit amount, the Social Security Administration looks at every yearly income that person reported to the IRS since they began working. They identify the 35 highest earning years the person had and then use those 35 annual income figures and index them against the national average income for each of those years.

The government then adds those 35 indexed annual earning figures together, divides them by 35 (giving it an average annual income), and then divides again by 12, producing what is referred to as the worker’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME.

AIME Is Then Processed Through the Benefit Formula

Once the AIME figure is established, representing the indexed average amount the person earned in their highest 35 earning years, Social Security applies a formula using the AIME figure as the starting point.

The formula which produces the claimant’s monthly benefit amount is this:

  • Take the AIME figure
  • Add 90% of the first $1,024 in the AIME, plus
  • 32% of the AIME between $1,024 and $6,172, plus
  • 15% of the AIME above $6,172, then
  •  round down to the next lowest $0.10 unless the figure is already a multiple of 10.

The resulting figure is the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), the amount the claimant will receive as a monthly SSD payment.

Let’s illustrate how the formula works by showing a few examples with different imaginary workers' annual incomes.

Example #1 – Average Indexed Monthly Income $2,580

Take the AIME to figure of $2,580

  • TAdd 90% of the first $1,024 in the AIME: = $921.60 plus
  • T32% of the AIME between $1,024 and $6,172: = (2,580 – 1,024 = $1,556 x .32 = $497.92)plus
  • T15% of the AIME above $6,172: = $0 ,
  • Then $921.60 + $497.92 + $0 = $1,419.52, then
  • Tround down to the next lowest $0.10 unless the figure is already a multiple of 10 = $1,419.90.

Example #2 – Average Indexed Monthly Income $5,200

Take the AIME to figure $5,200

  • Add 90% of the first $1,024 in the AIME: = $921.60 plus
  • 32% of the AIME between $1,024 and $6,172, (5,200 – 1,024 = $4,175 x .32 = $1,336.32, plus
  • 15% of the AIME above $6,172: = $0
  • $921.60 + $1,336.32 + $0 = $2,257.92, then
  • round down to the next lowest $0.10 unless the figure is already a multiple of 10 = $2,257.90

Example #3 – Average Indexed Monthly Income $7,100

Take the AIME to figure of $7,100

  • Add 90% of the first $1,024 in the AIME: = $921.60 plus
  • 32% of the AIME between $1,024 and $6,172: = $5,148 x .32 = $1,647.36 plus
  • 15% of the AIME above $6,172: $928 x .15 = $139.20
  • $921.60 + $1,647.36 + $139.20 = $2,708.16, then
  • round down to the next lowest $0.10 unless the figure is already a multiple of 10 = $2,708.10

Maximum Possible Social Security Disability Benefit

The figures used in the examples above are illustrations only. The different AIMEs we used in the examples are based on some randomly selected earnings. You can find your highest 35 annual incomes by visiting the “my Social Security” website and logging in or opening an account. No one can receive more than the maximum allowable monthly SSD benefit amount which is $3,345 in 2022.

Other sources of income replacement paid by public agencies can also reduce the amount of your benefit. For example, worker’s compensation is intended to replace some of your lost wages just as Social Security Disability does. The government does not approve double-dipping from publicly funded programs.

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