How Are SSDI Benefits Calculated?

If you’re looking at applying for Social Security Disability benefits, besides wanting to know if you have a good case for benefits, one of your first questions will probably be: What does Social Security Disability pay?

There’s no doubt disability benefits provide great financial relief when you can’t work and earn an income because of life-altering health problems. They send you monthly checks so you can manage your life better and live more securely.

But this isn’t winning the lottery. Disability benefits are only enough to cover necessities. They almost certainly pay less than you made by working.

How much you get in Social Security Disability depends in part on which of two disability benefits program you have:

No1: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): You can get SSDI if you recently worked a significant amount of time and paid enough into Social Security through taxes, you have to stop working for medical reasons, and you’re not retirement age.

How are SSDI benefits calculated for you?

In a similar way that Social Security calculates retirement benefits, for SSDI they’ll take years of your past earnings, average them together and run it through a formula. Your SSDI amount is unique to you.

No. 2: Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is for people with work-stopping disabilities, little income and few other financial resources. Unlike SSDI, it’s not based on your earnings history. Social Security sets a standard amount for SSI that applies to everyone.

Find out more about what to expect from Social Security Disability benefits by reading below, or talking to the disability attorneys at Levine Benjamin Law Firm.

Levine Benjamin has helped over 80,000 people in Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Toledo, and across Michigan and Ohio, win disability benefits and get their lives on steadier ground.

From Applying to Appealing, We Help You Every Step of the Way.

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How Much Is SSDI in Michigan? What About SSI?

While the exact size of your Social Security Disability Insurance checks will be calculated just for you, national numbers give a general idea of how much disability benefits typically pay.

The amounts change from year to year, and vary a little by state, with Michigan being a bit higher than Ohio in recent years, but this is where the SSDI national average stood going into 2024:

  • Average Monthly Check for a Worker with Disabilities: $1,537
  • Maximum Monthly Amount a Worker Could Get: $3,822

Of course, yours will almost certainly be different from the average. And keep in mind that most people won’t get the maximum.

If you receive other kinds of benefits, for example workers’ compensation for injuries on the job, Social Security may reduce how much it pays you in SSDI depending on the size of your workers’ comp checks.

And this is where Social Security set the standard SSI amounts—the same thing everyone gets for that type of benefit—in 2024:

  • SSI for Individuals: $943 per month
  • SSI for Eligible Couples: $1,415 per month

If you have some income, it could reduce the amount you personally get from SSI—if the income isn’t enough to disqualify you from benefits completely because of SSI’s low-income requirement.

In many states, including Michigan and Ohio, you also can get a supplement provided by your state government on top of the standard, national SSI amount.

To get an idea how much Social Security Disability benefits could help you financially, start with a conversation with the Ohio and Michigan disability lawyers at Levine Benjamin—no cost to you.

What Is the Annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Disability Benefits?

We all know that life gets more expensive over time. Prices at stores never seem to go backward. It’s what they call inflation.

Because of inflation, in most years Social Security grants increases in disability benefits called cost of living adjustments, or COLAs.

So the monthly payment amounts you see above, and your own amount, will likely go up over time. Your Social Security Disability benefits are permanent as long as you still can’t work or get retirement benefits.

Depending on how high inflation has been lately, Social Security gives a bigger, or a smaller, COLA in any given year.

You can see how COLAs affected average SSDI payments over a recent five years that included unusually high inflation:

  • 2020: $1,261
  • 2021: $1,282
  • 2022: $1,364
  • 2023: $1,489
  • 2024: $1,537

Another thing that goes up with inflation is the amount you can still work and earn before Social Security decides you no longer qualify for disability benefits because you’re able to work too much. They call that amount “substantial gainful activity,” SGA for short.

Social Security set SGA at $1,550 per month in 2024. That means you could earn that much from working but still be considered to have a disability that prevents substantial working. If you have blindness, you could make up to $2,590 per month.

In 2020, the SGA limit for non-blind people with health impairments was $1,260. So it went up $290 four years later due to COLAs.

Before you can get anything at all from Social Security Disability, you have to prove you need it by going through an involved process that includes frequent denials of benefits.

This is where the Social Security Disability lawyers at Levine Benjamin Law Firm can help. We guide you through the process and make it easier on you. And you pay no fee for a disability lawyer until you win benefits.

Let’s get started on your disability benefits claim, so you can receive all the income support and breathing room that is possible for you to get.

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