Monthly Social Security Disability Benefits | Monthly Disability Benefits | SSD | SSDI | SSI

While no one wants to be disabled, but if you are, the United States Social Security laws provide you the right to SSD benefits. When you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits and trying to plan your future on a reduced income, you may want a clear idea of how much your monthly Social Security disability check would be when if you end up qualifying. The size of a person's monthly SSDI check varies based on his or her prior earnings and work history.

This page can help you estimate how much your benefits will be to help you plan your future. However, if you would like a more exact estimate of what monthly benefits you might be entitled to, we recommend contacting an experienced and qualified Social Security disability lawyer who can help you with your case.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income benefits - SSI

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits, are monthly payments paid to disabled people who have few resources and low incomes. Where SSDI is funded by payroll taxes, the Supplemental Security Income program,  is funded by general federal tax revenue. SSI is a crucial safety net for individuals who may not have ever been able to work due to conditions they were born with.

How much are monthly SSI benefits checks?

In 2011, the maximum monthly SSI check for an individual was $674 and for a couple $1,011. The amount of other income you can receive each month and still get SSI benefits depends partly on where in the country you live.

Generally, SSI's income limitation says a person cannot bring in more than their SSI payment each month. However, certain parts of a person's income do not count towards whether they qualify for SSI benefits, including the first $65 they make from working, the first $20 they receive, any food stamps or housing assistance they get from private nonprofits.

Also, to qualify for SSI, a person cannot posses more than a set level of resources determined by the Social Security Administration. The SSA considers something to be a resource if it can be converted to cash. Under this definition, bank accounts, cast, stock, bonds, and real estate are considered resources. A person can qualify for SSI if their resources do not total more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.

Certain resources, such as the home where you life, life insurance policies valued at $1,500 or less, your car (typically), and burial plots for you and your family, do not count towards your resources for the SSA's calculations.

To Qualify for SSI:

In order to qualify for SSI benefits, a person must meet the following four requirements:

  • Be considered disabled under the SSA's definition;
  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Must earn less than a specified amount;
  • You must have limited resources.

Monthly Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits - SSDI

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is available for individuals who have become disabled and are no longer able to work due to a disabling physical or mental condition. To qualify, an individual must have spent a certain amount of time working in a job where he or she paid Social Security taxes. He or she must also suffer from a medical condition of such gravity that it would fit the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled. For more information on whether or not you are disabled according to the SSA and who would make that decision, check out the statutory provision discussing Disability Determinations.

To Qualify for SSDI:

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, a person must meet the following four requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must be under 65 and thus not yet eligible for Social Security retirement;
  • You must have a recent work history and worked for enough time;
  • You must be considered disabled by the SSA’s definition.

Social Security rules define "disability" the following way: 

  1. A person cannot do work that you did before;
  2. The Social Security Administration decides that an individual cannot adjust to other work because of his or her medical condition(s); and
  3. An applicant's disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Social Security Disability Insurance will only be granted to those workers who are considered totally disabled. No benefits for partial disability or for short-term disability are available.

A worker might be able to receive SSDI benefits if they suffer from disabling asthma, heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, lupus, cancer, Parkinson's, paralysis, back injuries, chronic pain syndrome, traumatic brain injury, severe depression, schizophrenia, personality disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This list is by no means exhaustive. You should speak to a Social Security disability attorney about your specific condition—whether it be caused by a physical injury, a mental illness, or a physical illness—and how it curbs your ability to work. For more on qualifying for Social Security disability benefits, see this list of frequently asked questions.

How big will my monthly SSDI disability benefits check be?

The size of your SSDI benefit checks depends on your prior income. Basically, the more you paid into the system, the more you will be able to draw out of it once you are declared disabled and awarded benefits. The average monthly benefit paid out for all disability recipients in November 2010 was $1,067.

When you are declared disabled by the Social Security Administration, you will receive a letter that outlines how much you will receive each month. A worker’s monthly disability payment will be a percentage of that worker’s average earnings. For example, a person making $42,000 a year would receive, on average, around $18,700 in disability insurance benefits annually, or roughly 45 percent of their former earnings. 

However, depending upon where you live, your actual Social Security check amount vary based on the cost of living in that area. The Social Security Administration looks at what the cost of living every year. A Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is an automatic adjustment in benefits that occurs annually. The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation. This handy calculator can help you determine the average cost of living in your area.

SSDI benefits - Back pay?

If you are declared eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you may also be eligible to receive back pay. The specific amount of back pay depends on what date the Social Security Administration declares as the time of your disability’s onset.

If the SSA finds you eligible for back pay, you will receive a lump check for your monthly benefits from that date to the date your application was approved, minus payments from the five-month "waiting period" that all Social Security disability claimants are subject to.

How is a Social Security disability lawyer paid?

If you decide to hire a Social Security disability attorney to represent you, you might be wondering how you could afford to pay for one. The majority of Social Security lawyers work on contingency, meaning that you do not pay a penny unless you win your claim.

The fee your Social Security disability lawyer can recover is based on the amount of back pay you are owed by the SSA. Your lawyer’s fee is 25 percent of whatever backpay you are owed, but the maximum fee that can be collected is $6000. These fees are uniform across the country.

Is it possible to receive Concurrent SSI & SSDI benefits?

Yes, a person can is receive both SSI and SSDI benefits if their circumstances fit the bill. If you hope to do so, it is important to file for both at the time of your initial application. This is called a concurrent claim. Individuals who qualify for SSDI benefits but who had an income that would mean they would receive a small monthly SSDI benefit may be able to receive more money in SSI benefits so that they could receive a minimum total monthly benefit.

If you believe your situation means you should apply for concurrent benefits, a Social Security disability attorney can help you decide if exploring this option is right for your situation and circumstances.