How much does Social Security pay in disability benefits?

Social Security Disability payment amounts vary greatly, because they are based upon a disability beneficiary's earnings in the years prior to the onset of their disability. If a disability beneficiary has had higher earnings or has worked for longer period of time, their disability benefits are usually higher than those of a younger disability beneficiary who may have lower earnings and fewer years of earnings.

What affects the amount of monthly Social Security Disability Benefits you may receive?

There are very few factors that can reduce a Social Security Disability beneficiary's monthly disability benefits. The most common offset or reduction to Social Security Disability monthly benefit amounts is the receipt of workman's compensation benefits.

However, Social Security Disability beneficiaries who receive pensions or disability benefits from employers or government agencies that did, or do not, pay into Social Security may also be subject to an offset or reduction in their monthly Social Security Disability benefits.

Some Social Security Disability beneficiaries receive disability benefits that are so low that they may still be able to receive monetary disability benefits from the needs based Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability program.

If a disability beneficiary receives both Social Security Disability and SSI disability benefits, their total monthly benefit amount is always governed by the maximum SSI disability monthly amount. SSI disability beneficiaries have a set monthly maximum disability benefit amount that increases each year that Social Security gives a cost of living increase.

However, not all SSI disability beneficiaries are entitled to receive the maximum SSI disability amount. Since SSI is a needs based disability program, other factors affect the amount of SSI disability benefits an individual is eligible to receive.

What affects the amount of monthly SSI disability benefits you may receive?

The two most common factors that affect the amount of a SSI beneficiary's monthly disability amount are living arrangements and work activity. 'Living arrangement disability benefit reduction' usually hinges on the ability of a SSI beneficiary to pay their fair share of the living expenses in the household they live in.

For example, if a SSI disability beneficiary lives in a household of three individuals, they should be able to pay one third of the household expenses (rent, mortgage, electric, garbage, heating fuel, water, etc.). If they are unable to pay their fair share of the household expenses, they will receive a reduced disability benefit until they are able to pay their share.

Additionally, if a person receiving SSI is receiving outside help paying their bills, they may receive a reduced monthly disability amount because of the financial help they receive.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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