One question that my social security clients often ask is “How much will I receive if I am awarded disability benefits.” My answer is always the same: “It depends.”
To begin with, there are two types of social security benefits: Title 2 (also known as DIB or Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits) and Title 16 (also known as Supplemental Security Income (“SSI” benefits). How much you receive can depend on which program, if any, you are eligible for.
The amount of money that a claimant will receive under Title 2 (SSDI) depends on how much the claimant has paid into the system. As you work, you usually pay social security taxes (there are some exceptions). If you have paid enough social security taxes, you will be eligible for Title 2 benefits. Under Title 2, your monthly benefit amount is based on your average lifetime earnings covered under Social Security. Payments you receive from worker’s compensation or a pension based on earnings not covered under Social Security can reduce your Social Security disability payment. If you would like to know the exact amount of monthly benefits that you would receive if awarded Title 2 (SSDI) benefits, you can contact your local social security office for a statement. You can also get your statement online here.
Under Title 16 (SSI), monthly benefits are capped by the Social Security Administration at $698 per month. This amount can also be reduced based on income, resources and your living situation.
In addition, both programs will often (but not always) award past-due benefits. Both are awarded starting from the date that social security finds that a claimant became disabled, with a few caveats. First of all, benefits cannot go back farther than the date of the application for Title 16 (SSI), or a year before the application for Title 2 (SSDI). Secondly, SSDI has a five month waiting period before a claimant begins to receive benefits. Thus, if you eligible for Title 2 (SSDI), and are found to be disabled, for example, on the date of your application, but it has taken one year for your claim to be approved, you will not receive past-due benefits for the first five months after your application was filed. You will receive past-due benefits for the next full month and every month after that, in addition to your monthly benefits going forward.