How to Calculate Social Security Disability Benefits

Our Tulsa Disability Lawyers Explain How Disability Pay is Calculated

After you have gone through the five-step evaluation process and qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you may wonder how much money you will receive each month. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a weighted formula to determine how much you are allowed in disability benefits. This formula is complicated and is constantly being adjusted to account for things like inflation, changes to the average income and any other disability payments you collect.

What Factors Determine the Amount of My Social Security Disability Benefits?

The amount of your monthly payments from SSDI depends entirely on your average lifetime earnings before the onset of your disability, while the government bases SSI payments only on need. The most enduring myth about Social Security benefits is that the severity of your disability determines the amount of money you receive. While this is true for workers’ compensation and other insurance settlements, this is not the case for SSDI and SSI.

You have probably noticed deductions on your paycheck that go toward Social Security (usually though FICA). The money taken out of your paycheck ensures that you will qualify for disability insurance benefits if you become disabled. The total amount you have paid into Social Security over your lifetime through these payroll deductions is the major factor that determines the amount of your SSDI payment. If you are unsure of your earnings history, you can download your earnings report and an estimate of the benefits you would receive for disability by going to the website for the Social Security Administration. On the home page of that website, click on the link to “My Social Security” and follow the instructions.

Supplemental Security Income works differently. SSI is need-based, so your past earnings do not matter. Instead, the SSA will consider the amount of your current income, as well as your marital status and living arrangements when calculating your SSI benefits. An SSI attorney from our law firm can explain what kinds of income will influence your Social Security disability claim. We can also tell you what exemptions may apply in your situation.

What Are the Average SSI and SSDI Payments?

There are limits to how much you can receive in disability benefits each month. In 2016, the maximum amount you can receive from SSDI is $2639 per month. Additionally, the limit for SSI is $733 for a single person and $1100 for a couple. By the time you get approval for benefits, you will likely qualify for back pay as well. Social Security disability back pay is money you receive for past due benefits. This means you are compensated for the payments you would have received in the months between when you filed your application and when it was approved.

Currently, the average disability payment is $1,166 for SSDI and $542 for SSI. However, these numbers change yearly. Therefore, you should always check with your local Tulsa disability lawyers for the latest Social Security benefits statistics.

Can My Social Security Disability Payments Increase?

Every year, inflation forces prices higher on everything from food and clothes to car repairs and rent. Your Social Security disability payments cannot remain at a flat rate for years on end. Otherwise, you would eventually not get enough money to cover all of your expenses. To counteract the effects of inflation, the SSA recalculates your benefits once a year and will increase your payments accordingly. These recalculations, called cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), are the most common way that your benefits will increase.

Sometimes, if you receive SSDI payments that are very low, you might qualify for SSI benefits as well. This is known as getting concurrent benefits, and it can help you make ends meet if you have little or no work history. However, the Supplemental Security Income calculations include your SSDI income, which means that you probably cannot receive the maximum SSI benefit amount available.

What Will Happen to My Disability Benefits If I Return to Work?

It is possible to qualify for SSDI benefits for a disability that might keep you from work for only a set period of time. If you are able to return to work full time and earn an income, you may lose your Social Security disability benefits in Oklahoma. However, it is not always easy to know when you are fully healthy and able to work. This is especially true if your profession requires long hours of sitting, standing or other physical activity. That is why the SSA allows you to take advantage of a trial work period if you receive SSDI benefits.

During a trial work period (TWP), you can return to work for up to nine months during a five-year period. You will still receive your full Social Security disability benefits during that time. These months do not have to be consecutive, and the work you do must be a substantial gainful activity (SGA). This means that you must make over $810 in order for the month to count towards your trial work period. If you find that you cannot handle returning to a job during your TWP, you can stop working. If you do, you will continue to receive your disability payments, uninterrupted.

For More on How to Calculate Social Security Disability Benefits, Call an SSDI Attorney Today

Social Security disability law is complicated, which is why it is the only kind of law we practice at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. We have years of experience with SSDI and SSI claims, so we can answer any other questions you may have. In particular, we can explain how the SSA will calculate Social Security disability benefits in Oklahoma.

Every Social Security disability claim is different, so our Tulsa disability lawyers will give you the personalized attention you deserve. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.