Suffering from a disability is one of the most difficult things any person can endure. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help provide support, it’s not easy to know exactly what that benefit will be. If you need Social Security disability income, how do you know what the SSA will be paying?

### Determining What the SSA Pays for SSDI

If you’re eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which means having paid into Social Security for long enough while employed, then here’s a brief breakdown of how payments are calculated. First, the SSA determines what your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings are, or would be over 35 years. This can be a bit confusing to calculate if you became disabled before actually completing 35 years of work.

The way it’s calculated for those that don’t have 35 years of work experience is as follows:

- Take the age you were at the onset of the disability
- Subtract 21 from that age
- Subtract either 5 from that number of years, or 1/5th of that difference.
- For example, if you were 36 when the disability set in, then you would subtract 21 from 36, giving you 15.
- Then multiply 1/5th by 15, which is 3 years.
- Since 3 years is less than 5, subtract the 3 from the 15 for a total of 12 years. The SSA will then only make the average monthly income based on the highest 12 years of earning you received.
- If you were 46 or older at the onset of disability then you’ll be subtracting 5 from the difference between that age and 21.

Next is determining what your Primary Insurance Amount would be. This is the most complex aspect of the calculations. The SSA breaks down your average monthly earnings into three sections, then adds those three pieces together and that equals your monthly benefit payment. The three sections are broken down into brackets that are used for everyone.

- $1 to $885 equals a benefit equal to 90%
- $886 to $5,335 gets 32% as a benefit
- $5,336 and above gets only 15%

For example, if you made $6,000 as the monthly average, then you’d receive $796.50 for the first $885, plus $1,424 for the amount between $886 and $5,335 of your average wages, then an additional $99.60 for the remainder. That would mean your total benefit should equal $2,320.10 per month.

### Benefits for SSI

If you will receive Supplemental Security Income instead, then the calculation is more straightforward. SSI is based on your income, not your work history. The maximum payable amount is set by Congress, and half of any earnings you are likely to make over $65 per month, are deducted from that. If you need help making more sense of what you can receive for your Social Security disability income then contact a certified Social Security attorney to help determine what you could be paid.