Does an injury, illness, or medical impairment prevent you from working on a full-time basis? If so, you may be eligible for federally backed disability compensation. As explained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), two programs provide financial assistance to qualifying people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
This raises an important question: How are social security disability benefits calculated? The short answer is that benefits are largely based on your pre-disability earnings, not on the severity of your disability. Harold W. Conick, our Social Security disability attorney, provides a more in-depth explanation of the key things to understand about how SSDI benefits are calculated.
Your SSDI Benefit is Based on Your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME)
To qualify for SSDI benefits, an applicant must prove they are covered by the program through sufficient work history and that they have a qualifying disability. Once your SSDI claim is approved, your benefits will be based on your past earnings. The SSA bases its disability calculation on a monthly formula called average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). Simply described, AIME is your inflation-adjusted earnings. As SSDI benefits are meant to make up for your inability to work, your benefits are based largely on your pre-disability earnings.
To be clear, this means that the severity of your disability does not directly impact your benefits. For the purposes of SSDI, an applicant is either medically disabled or not medically disabled. If you are disabled and you meet the program’s legal and logistical requirements, then you are eligible for financial benefits. Those benefits will be calculated based on your earning history.
Social Security Disability Regulations: A Maximum Monthly Benefit ($3,011 for 2021)
Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through a federal payroll tax. By paying these taxes, you become “insured” under the program. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax only applies to a portion of the wages of high-income workers. As of 2021, the Social Security portion of the FICA tax only applies to the first $142,800 in earnings.
Because of this tax system, there are maximum monthly Social Security disability benefits. The maximum benefit is adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation. For SSDI claims approved after July 1st, 2021, the maximum monthly SSDI benefit is $3,011. No matter your career earnings, you cannot get more than $3,011 per month in Social Security disability for 2021.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area Social Security Disability Lawyer
At Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd., our Social Security disability lawyer has the professional expertise you can count on. If you have questions about the amount of Social Security disability benefits that are available, our legal team is here to help. The majority of initial SSDI claims are denied but having experienced legal counsel that knows the system can help increase the chances that your claim is approved.
Call us now for a no-cost, no-obligation case review. We provide disability representation throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area and Northern Illinois – including in Cook County, DuPage County, Kendall County, Will County, and Lake County – as well as northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.