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What Is The Maximum Social Security Disability Benefit?
If you have a permanent disability that prevents you from working, you may qualify for monthly benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs from the Social Security Administration. The maximum monthly benefit payable through SSDI is $3,148, but a cost-of-living adjustment scheduled for 2022 increases it to $3.345. The maximum monthly SSI payment of $794 for an individual and $1,191 for married couples when both parties qualify for benefits will increase in 2022 to $841 for individuals and $1,261 for couples.
Whether you qualify for the maximum SSD benefit depends on several factors. The following information about each of the programs offers a glimpse at how the SSA determines benefits payable through each of them. A consultation with a Social Security disability lawyer at MJ Ellis Disability Law provides specific information about your benefits in addition to offering experienced representation in the application process and, if necessary, to appeal a denial of benefits.
Qualifying for SSDI
Qualifying for SSDI benefits requires that you have earnings from either jobs or through self-employment on which you paid Social Security taxes. If you satisfy the work requirement, you also must be disabled according to the definition used by the SSA.
Satisfying the work required depends on the number of work credits you earned. Work credits are earned based upon annual wages from a job or income through self-employment. One work credit is earned for each $1,470 of annual income up to a maximum of $5,880 or four credits a year. Cost-of-living adjustments can cause the amounts needed to earn a work credit to change each year.
Generally, the number of work credits needed to qualify for SSDI depends on your age. The older you are at the onset of your disability, the more credits are needed to qualify for benefits.
If your work record meets the qualifying standard, you must be disabled. Unlike other disability programs, particularly those offered by the various states, you must be totally disabled to qualify for SSDI. A partial or temporary disability does not meet the SSA definition for disabled.
You must be unable to do any type of work that you did before or adjust to another type of work because of your medical condition. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year or cause you to die.
How does Social Security calculate SSDI benefits?
The amount that you receive each month in SSDI benefits does not depend on the number of work credits or the severity of the disabling medical condition. Social Security calculates your benefits based on a portion of your lifetime earnings.
Complex computation rules let Social Security allow for wage trends during your best earnings years to determine your primary insurance amount. The average monthly benefit paid through SSDI was $1,280 in 2021 as reported by Social Security.
Workers’ compensation benefits may reduce the amount that you receive each month from SSDI. The combined SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits cannot be more than 80% of pre-disability average earnings. If the total amount you receive in combined benefits exceeds 80%, your SSDI benefit will be reduced.
Maximum SSD benefit through SSI
The SSI program pays monthly benefits to adults and children who are disabled or blind. It also pays benefits to elderly individuals who are 65 years of age and older regardless of their medical condition. You qualify for SSI without needing a work record.
SSI is a need-based program funded by the federal government. You may not have resources with a total value of over $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 for couples.
Because it is based on need as opposed to a person’s earnings record, the maximum monthly SSI benefit of $794 is the same for all individuals who qualify. However, the amount that you receive may be less than the maximum depending on the income you have from other sources, but Social Security regulations do not count all income. Some of it may be excluded.
As an example, if you earn $685 during the month at a part-time job, all of it does not count against your SSI benefit. You may exclude the first $65 of monthly earnings and one-half of the balance, and you also may exclude $20 in earned or unearned income each month. Applying the exclusions to the example results in the following:
- $65 deducted from your $685 in wages leaves a balance of $620.
- Of the remaining $620, you may exclude one-half or $310 of it, which leaves a balance of $310.
- Applying the $20 exclusion to the $310 leaves a balance of $290.
The $290 balance of income for the month reduces your $794 maximum SSI benefit to $504.