Sadly, illnesses and accidents happen, leaving people with mental or physical impairments that prevent them from working. On the bright side, there are programs that support people with disabilities.
But how much does disability pay? Is it enough to cover basic needs such as bills, rent, and food…
You’re on the right page, as we’ve already done our research on the topic.
Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about disability benefits — eligibility criteria, the average disability payment, and more.
Let’s get started!
How Does Disability Work?
Disability benefits provide income replacement and/or job protection to employees who are unable to work due to permanent or temporary impairments.
To understand how disability benefits work, it is necessary to be clear about what is considered a disability. Different types of benefits and programs may have different definitions of a disability.
The two most common federal benefits programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), define disability under the Social Security Act (SSA).
To meet the SSA definition of disability, one must have a medical or physical condition preventing them from working their previous job or adjusting to another one.
Additionally, a person is eligible for federal-funded benefits if the disability has lasted or it’s expected to last for at least one year. Or, unfortunately, it’s expected to result in death.
What conditions qualify for disability? Take a look at some of them:
- Conditions that limit the ability to stand, walk, lift and sit for a minimum of 12 months
- Memory loss for a minimum of 12 months
- Conditions like pancreatic cancer, acute leukemia, and ALS qualify for coverage as soon as the diagnosis of the disease is confirmed
- Blindness or low vision
Now, let’s get a closer look at the SSDI requirements and calculations.
You can qualify for SSDI benefits if you meet the definition of disability. In addition, you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes or FICA on your earnings.
The monthly disability payments last until you’re able to get back to work regularly. In cases where you reach retirement age, your disability benefits will become your retirement benefits. Notably, the amount won’t change — it will remain the same.
How many years of work do you need to qualify for disability benefits?
The process of qualification is actually based on credits determined by the SSA. The amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. In 2022, you earn one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. The maximum number of credits you can earn per year is four, which translates to $6,040 in income.
Being eligible for disability benefits depends on the number of your gained credits during your years of work, as well as your age. Now, let’s see how the credits and the age interact with each other:
- Before the age of 24, you’re eligible for social security disability benefits if you’ve gained six credits for the last three years before the disability occurs
- The rule for people aged 24 to 31 is that they’re eligible for the SSDI benefits only if they had work half of the time between the age of 21 and the age when their disability condition starts
- People aged 31 or more need to have a minimum of 20 credits during the 10-year period before their disability occurs
For clarification, take a look at the following table with an estimated data:
|When the disability is developed||An estimated number of years in work needed for SSDI benefits qualification|
|Before the age of 28||1.5 years of work|
|At age 30||2 years|
|At age 34||3 years|
|At age 38||4 years|
|At age 42||5 years|
|At age 44||5.5 years|
|At age 46||6 years|
|At age 48||6.5 years|
|At age 50||7 years|
|At age 52||7.5 years|
|At age 54||8 years|
|At age 56||8.5 years|
|At age 58||9 years|
|At age 60||9.5 years|
How is the disability for SSDI calculated?
If you’re positive that you meet the SSDI requirements, it’s important as well to know how are your disability benefits calculated.
Have in mind that the number of your disabilities or how much you struggle with them don’t count as factors. Instead, the SSA takes your past income as the main factor for the calculations.
So, your monthly disability payments depend on the earnings you’ve gained from your previous jobs in the past years before your disability condition happened.
Your SSDI payment is calculated based on your average lifetime earnings on which you’ve paid taxes. Those earnings are called Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). SSA takes your AIME to calculate your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). Now, let’s see the percentages that SSA uses for calculating PIA:
- Takes 90% of AIME for less than $1,024
- Takes 32% of AIME between $1,024 and $6,172
- Takes 15% of AIME for more than $6,172
Your final calculated PIA is the maximum amount of SSDI benefits you can receive.
To get more clearer picture of how much your disability payout would be, check out the SSDI calculator.
What Can Decrease Your SSDI Amount?
Other benefits that you receive may reduce your SSDI payments.
For example, receiving worker compensation due to an injury that happened to you during your work hours could be a reason for reducing your SSDI payments. In addition, state or federal retirement benefits could also decrease the amount.
Also, if the person is able and wants to work some kind of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), then SSA will stop the SSDI payments. What is considered an SGA? Significant and productive duties performed by people who are able to work full-time. In that case, SSA will consider those people healthy and with no disabilities, which results in not being eligible for SSDI benefits.
Be aware that the spousal income could also affect your SSDI amount. If you’re receiving SSDI payments and get married, the SSA needs to review your spouse’s income because the household income may affect your SSDI payments.
How to Increase the Social Security Disability Benefits Amount?
Other than the SSDI program, there is an SSI program — Supplemental Security Income. Applying for SSI is an option to increase your monthly payments received from SSDI. But, keep in mind that SSI is only for people who have low-income jobs.
SSI is also going under the SSA, and again, there are requirements that a person must meet to get SSI benefits.
Now, let’s see how SSI differs from SSDI regarding its requirements and payments.
The SSI program gives benefits to people who have low income or resources and are one of the following:
- 65+ years old
- Have a disability that stops them from working and it’s expected to last at least one year or, it’s expected to result in death
- A child with a disability who has parents with low incomes
SSI gives monthly payments to people who are eligible for the program. How much they would get depends on their earnings — wages and resources.
The state where you live is also considered a factor. Each state has different criteria. For more specific info about the wage limits in your state, you need to call the Social Security Administration.
If you get earnings from resources such as real estate, cash, stocks, and bonds, they need to be worth no more than $2,000 if you want to apply for SSI benefits. Additionally, a couple may be eligible for benefits from the SSI program if they have resources of no more than $3,000.
Note: A person can receive both SSI and SSDI benefits if the criteria of low income/resources and work history are met.
SSI and SSDI Payment Amounts
In 2022, more than 70 million Americans will get an increase of 5.9% in their income from SSDI and SSI. There are other facts worth mentioning that people with disabilities need to know.
First, let’s get started with something basic that all workers in 2022 must know. And that would be the maximum monthly earnings they’re allowed to in order to be eligible for the SSDI program:
- Maximum $1,350 per month for people with disabilities
- Maximum $2,260 per month for blind people
Notably, in 2021, the maximum social security benefit was $3,148/month.
Second, SSA statistics for July 2022 show:
- The average SSDI payment was $1,231 per month
- The average SSI payment was $624 per month
Third, the maximum monthly payment that SSI beneficiaries could get in 2022 is:
- $841 for an eligible individual
- $1,261 for an eligible married couple
- $421 for an essential person (someone who lives with an SSI beneficiary and provides essential care)
How Much Does Disability Pay per State?
Now that you know the most important things about the US disability benefits in general, let’s see how they work in some particular states.
How much does disability pay in California?
Californians give 1.1% of their wages to State Disability Insurance (SDI) taxes. Million Californians are eligible for the SDI benefits that the state of California has created for people with disabilities — those with a maximum annual income of $145,600 pay SDI taxes, while those who earn more don’t.
But who is eligible for California SDI?
Those who get paychecks from which a particular amount is automatically deducted for SDI taxes. Plus, one of the following:
- Have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from working
- Take paid leave to take care of a sick child or relative
- Pregnant women
Last but not least, how are the SDI payments calculated in California? Let’s see.
People with disabilities get a payment of 55% of their average monthly salary for up to 52 weeks of having a disability. To determine how much your average salary is, SDI analyzes your wages in the 12 months between:
- Approximately 17 months before your disability occurred
- Approximately 5 months before your disability occurred
These 12 months are called a base period, during which you need to have earned at least $300 in wages, as well as SDI taxes paid.
Bottom line — a person who is eligible for SDI will get a minimum of $50 and a max of $1,540 disability payment per week.
How much does disability pay in Texas?
As SSDI is a federal program, Texans are also eligible for its benefits if they meet the criteria — have a disability, worked long enough to get the necessary credits, and paid taxes.
So, how much would your SSDI benefits in Texas be?
The amount you receive from SSDI will depend on how long you’ve worked and paid taxes. According to SSDRC, the average monthly payment is $1,200, but it could be as low as $300.
The SSI payments are based on low income and resources for people most in need, which was already stated. Furthermore, Texas is second on the list with the largest number of people receiving SSI benefits for July 2022 — a total of 598,055.
When it comes to the average monthly payment, it’s $585.6, regardless of the age and eligibility category.
Having a physical or mental disability is challenging, to say the least. It limits your ability to work, which results in low income. And with your duty to pay the bills, it can’t end well.
Luckily, there is a solution — disability programs offered by the US government. There are only a few requirements that you need to fulfill, such as having enough work credits and paying taxes. If that isn’t a problem for you, then you’re all set.
The monthly benefits that you could get differ from state to state. But, once you’re approved, the disability payment amount will be more than enough to cover your basic needs.
Some private companies pay short-term disability (STD) to their employees. STD is an injury or illness (not-work related) that affects a person’s ability to work. The income received from this program covers the lost income as long as the disability lasts. In the case of an STD, that period is a maximum of six months.
STD payments are calculated in accordance with the worker’s base pay, and the coverage that a worker gets is somewhere between 60% and 70% of his salary for a fixed amount of time.
The permanent disability program continues as long as the disability condition lasts or until retirement. The private workers who receive benefits from permanent disability programs usually get an average income of 60% of their annual earnings.
Personality disorders, anxiety, autism, psychotic disorders, and more are considered to be mental disabilities covered by the Social Security Administration. Once you find your mental illness eligible, you need to provide a valid reason that you’re stopped from working any kind of work for at least one year.
In 2021, the average SSDI payment was $1,277, while the average SSI disability payment was $586 per month for adults.
If you’re a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you’re entitled to receive a monthly benefit through the US Department of Veteran Affairs. You’re eligible if your PTSD has been diagnosed by a doctor and the mental illness occurred during your service. For example, being distanced from your friends and family, feeling afraid, and experiencing trauma.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs gives benefits to eligible veterans. The payment is based on a disability rating which depends on the PTSD frequency and durations. A 100% rating is the maximum a PTSD veteran could get — $3,332 per month.