If you have a medical condition that hinders you from earning an income, you may be looking into disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). How much could you receive as monthly disability benefits? How is social security disability calculated?

The answer depends on which Social Security Disability program you qualify for – whether it’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Here’s a guide on how each is determined.

SSDI Benefits Calculator – How Is SSDI Calculated?

Under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, your disability benefits will be based on your average lifetime earnings prior to disability.The SSA has a complex formula in calculating SSDI benefits, and they tweak it each year. To give you an idea, the average SSDI amount in 2018 is $1,197 per month, and the maximum amount is $2,788.

In general, these are the steps in determining how social security disability is calculated and the monthly amount of SSDI benefits:

Step 1. Determining Your AIME

In SSA terminology, AIME is your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings. This refers to the average amount of income from which you’ve paid Social Security taxes. Computing the AIME is itself complicated, as the SSA has to adjust for (or “index”) the increase in wages during the years you worked. To make it easier, you can simply view a chart by the SSA showing your expected indexed earnings.

Step 2. Determining Your PIA

Your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) is the amount of your monthly benefits before it is rounded off. To compute this amount, the SSA uses your AIME in three different formulas to come up with three different “bend points.” The sum of these bend points will then be your PIA.

The three formulas change every year to reflect the national average wage index. For 2018, these are the three formulas for the bend points:

  • 90 percent of the first $895 of your AIME
  • 32 percent of your AIME from $895 to $5,397
  • 15 percent of your AIME from $5,397 upwards.

Add the results of these three formulas, and the total is your PIA.

Step 3. Rounding Off

The actual amount of your monthly disability benefits will be your PIA, rounded down to the nearest whole dollar amount.

Tip: You can set up a My Social Security Account at SSA.gov and get estimates right from the government of your future retirement, disability and survivors benefits.

SSI Benefits Calculator – How Is SSI Calculated?

The other disability program, the Supplemental Security Income, computes benefits starting with a federally mandated amount that’s uniform for all beneficiaries. In 2018, the federal base rate is $750. Then this amount is adjusted depending on your “countable income,” your marital status, and the state you live in.

Reduction By Countable Income

If you are earning some money, the SSA may reduce your SSI benefitsby your “countable income.” Examples of countable income are earnings from existing work; food or shelter you receive for free or at a discount; money from family or friends; and benefits such as workers’ compensation, SSDI, and pension.

Not all of your earnings may be considered “countable income.” The SSA disregards the first $20 of any income you receive, and the first $65 plus half of the remainder of your income from work.

For example, you are working with an income of $800 per month. The SSA does not count the first $20, which leaves $780. Then the SSA further disregards $65, so the remainder is $715. Half of this – $357.50 – will be your countable income.

There are also other forms of income that the SSA does not consider “countable.” These include food stamps, tax refunds, and provisions from nonprofit agencies.

Adjustment Based On Marital Status

If you are married, and both you and your spouse qualify for SSI benefits, you will both get a federally set amount for couples, not a total of your individual benefits. The amount for couples is $1,125 per month. This may be less than what you would receive if you summed up your individual benefits ($750 x 2, or $1,500). This is because the SSA assumes that some costs, such as housing, are shared between a couple.

Additional Benefits From The State

In addition to your federal SSI benefits, you may receive SSI-based payments from your state government. Most states provide these, except Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

In the state of Virginia, these supplemental payments are provided under the Virginia Auxiliary Grant Program of the State Department of Social Services (DSS). To be eligible, you must qualify for SSI and live in an assisted living facility or adult care home.

To calculate your auxiliary grant monthly benefits in Virginia, you must first check the standard maximum amount in your county or city. This amount is then reduced by your federal SSI benefits as well as your countable income.

Contact Gillette Law Group

The best way to determine the full amount of benefits you may receive is to discuss it with a reliable disability attorney. Your lawyer can help you calculate the disability amount you are entitled to and also guide you to other benefit programs that may apply in your situation.

Consult for free with us at the Gillette Law Group. Virginians have trusted us for years and we have helped them claim their much-needed disability benefits.

Call us at (855) 806-4269 today.