How is the Social Security Disability Income Amount Determined?

Submitted by CM on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 10:51

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) offers a safety net for American workers that can no longer fulfill their financial obligations.

The program requires you to meet several strict criteria that include demonstrating you suffer from a qualifying medical condition. If you pass the stringent tests applied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you might have a common question on disability benefits that an attorney can answer.

How Does the SSA Calculate Your Monthly SSDI Payment?

Contrary to what many applicants for disability benefits believe, the amount of money you receive for assistance while living with a disability does not depend on the severity of your symptoms.

For example, if chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer have triggered severe nausea symptoms, the SSA does not factor in the severity of your nausea symptoms when calculating an amount for Social Security disability benefits. Instead, the SSA calculates financial assistance based on the income you generated over a certain period.

The SSA uses a similar mathematical model the federal agency uses to calculate Social Security retirement benefits. Calculation starts with the SSA determining your average monthly income throughout your working life, with an adjustment made for the national average increase in wages.

The SSA then determines what is called your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) by adding your average lifetime monthly income into a formula. If you are retired, the SSA uses the 35 years when you made the most money to calculate your PIA. Because many workers suffer a disabling medical condition before reaching retirement age, the SSA uses a different compilation of years to determine your average annual earnings.

A Social Security disability lawyer can explain how many years the SSA uses to calculate disability benefits for workers that have not reached the federally-approved retirement age.

What Other Income Can Impact Your SSDI Payments?

The SSA does not exclusively refer to your average lifetime earnings to determine an SSDI payment. If you receive one or more other forms of compensation, you might receive less financial assistance. You cannot exceed the limit put in place by the SSA called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

Factors that can influence the amount of your SGA include workers’ compensation benefits and other types of state and/or federal government disability assistance. If you receive a pension that is not covered by Social Security, your SGA might take a hit that reduces your SSDI monthly payments.

How Do I Get Backpay or Retroactive SSDI Payments?

Because of the considerable amount of time it takes to receive approval for SSDI, you might be eligible for back pay or retroactive payments for Social Security disability benefits. First, the SSA has to approve your claim for you to receive retroactive payments. Second, the SSA must not have any reason to withhold financial assistance.

For example, if the symptoms of your disabling condition have improved, the SSA might deny backpay for financial assistance. Finally, the SSA might deny backpay if more than five months have passed since the date of onset (EOD) of your disabling illness or injury.

Contact a Social Security Attorney

One of the most important legal support services provided by a Social Security disability lawyer involves calculating an accurate value for SSDI benefits.

An attorney reviews your medical records, as well as your most recent bank statements spanning the past 12 consecutive months to establish a figure the SSA should pay you every month. Get a free case evaluation to determine how the SSA calculates disability income.

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