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SSDI benefits are calculated based on the individual’s earnings prior to the disability. Most people earn benefits of between $700-$1,700 per month. As of 2018, the average benefit received is $1197.


Covered earnings are the earnings that individuals have paid Social Security taxes on during their working years. When calculating benefits, SSA averages the individual’s earnings to arrive at the individual’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME.) The calculation includes amounts from the highest earning years over a 35 year period to arrive at this amount.

Once the AIME is calculated, it is plugged into a formula used to calculate the Primary Insurance Amount, or PIA. This formula adjusts the individual’s benefits to account for inflation, age, etc. In 2018, the first $895 of the individual’s AIME is added to the PIA. Added to this is 32% of the AIME between $885 to $5,397, and 15% of the AIME over $5,397. Further, SSDI beneficiaries will receive a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2018.

Impact of Other Benefits on SSDI Payments

Payments from private insurance policies do not reduce the amount of SSDI payments, nor do payments from the VA. However, payments from programs including workers’ compensation and state disability programs will reduce SSDI benefits. Individuals cannot receive more than 80% of their pre-disability income and SSDI benefits will be reduced if the individual receives more than this amount when coupled with benefits received from workers’ compensation or temporary state disability programs.

Calculating Benefits

Individuals can calculate their own benefits using their Social Security Statement online. Using information maintained by the SSA, individuals can plug their data into the agencies calculators to determine what their benefit payments will be. Individuals should remember that benefits will not begin until after six full months of disability. Disability lawyers in Tennessee often help clients review their information and prepare their application so that they have a good idea of what their payments will be if they are awarded SSDI benefits.