Person calculating money with a calculator.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) distributes two types of benefits to disabled individuals in the United States: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI recipients rely on these benefits to cover their monthly living expenses and make ends meet.

If you are preparing to apply for SSDI or SSI, you may be wondering how much you will receive if you are approved for either type of benefit. How are SSDI and SSI benefits calculated? How can a Tampa Social Security disability attorney ensure you obtain the benefits you deserve? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

How Are SSDI Benefits Calculated?

Determining how much you will receive every month if you are approved for SSDI benefits is not easy. This is because the SSA uses a very confusing and complex formula to calculate SSDI benefits. In addition, the formula is adjusted every year, which means the amount you are approved for will vary depending on when you are approved.

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The main factor that will affect your SSDI benefit rate is your income. Or more specifically, the income you have earned and paid Social Security taxes on throughout your work history. The SSA refers to this income as “covered earnings.”

To calculate your SSDI benefit rate, the SSA will first need to determine your average covered earnings, which is called your average indexed monthly earnings, or AIME. You will need to know your AIME to calculate your primary insurance amount, or PIA, which is the base amount used by the SSA to determine your SSDI benefit rate.

Here’s where the formula comes in. As previously mentioned, this formula is adjusted on an annual basis. In 2020, the SSA calculated your PIA by adding:

  • 90% of the first $960 of your AIME, plus
  • 32% of your AIME between $960 to $5,785, plus
  • 15% of your remaining AIME, which is any AIME over $5,785.

You can calculate your PIA by adding these three values together. This will help you determine your base SSDI rate.

For example, say your AIME was $6,000. To calculate your PIA, you would first need to take 90% of the first $960, which equals $864.

Then, you would need to take 32% of your AIME between $960 and $5,785. You have $4,825 in AIME that falls between these two values, so 32% of this would equal $1,544.

Finally, take 15% of your remaining AIME above $5,785. You have $215 that falls above this limit, so 15% of that would be $32.25.

Add these three values—$864, $1,544, and $32.25—together. In this example, your PIA would be $2,440.25. This is the base that the SSA would use to set your SSDI benefit rate.

What is the Average SSDI Rate?

SSDI benefits vary from person-to-person. But in 2020, the average SSDI rate is $1,238 per month. You may receive more or less than this amount, depending on your income and other factors. However, you will not receive more than the monthly maximum limit established by the SSA, which is $3,011 in 2020.

How Are SSI Benefits Calculated?

The SSA takes a different approach when calculating SSI benefits. To calculate your SSI benefit rate, the SSA deducts your countable earned and unearned income from the maximum SSI benefit amount. The maximum SSI benefit rate in 2020 is $783 per month for individuals and $1,175 per month for couples.

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The SSA defines earned income as money that is earned as a result of performing some type of work. On the other hand, unearned income is money that you receive without performing work, such as child support, veterans’ benefits, and other government benefits.

All earned and unearned income is not considered “countable.” There are certain exclusions that you must apply when calculating your countable earned and countable unearned income. Some examples of earned income exclusions include:

  • The first $65 of earned income per month.
  • Work expenses incurred as a result of your disability
  • The first $30 of irregularly or infrequently earned income

Some examples of unearned income exclusions include:

  • Benefits received from a state or local authority.
  • Income that is set aside so you can use it to implement a plan that will help you become fully financially independent.
  • The first $20 of unearned income per month.

These are some of the many examples of unearned and earned income exclusions. After applying all earned and unearned income exclusions, you should be left with just your countable earned and countable unearned income. Add these two values together. Then, deduct the total from the maximum SSI benefit rate to determine how much you will receive every month.

For example, say you are applying for SSI benefits as an individual rather than a couple. You have $150 in countable unearned income per month and $200 in countable earned income per month. As previously mentioned, the maximum SSI rate for individuals in 2020 is $783 per month. To calculate your SSI benefits, you will need to deduct $150 and $200 from $783. In other words, you would be entitled to $433 in SSI benefits per month.

Discuss Your Case With A Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Are you thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits? If so, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the skilled Social Security disability attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. Our attorneys have been representing the disabled in the greater Tampa Bay area since 1971. During this time, we have successfully won over $50 million in Social Security disability claims for our clients. Let us put our extensive resources and experience to work for you.

Contact our law firm now to schedule a free consultation regarding your disability case.

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