What determines how much you receive in SSDI benefits?

Working for a certain amount of time in a position covered by Social Security means you have entitlement to certain benefits. If you suffer a disability that prevents you from working and you have enough of a work history, you may be able to secure Social Security Disability Insurance through the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Per the SSA, SSDI benefits may be available to you if your condition is severe enough for the administration to consider it a disability. If granted SSDI benefits, you may have questions about how the SSA determines how much you receive in your monthly benefit check.

How the SSA arrives at your primary insurance amount

The SSA determines how much to pay you in SSDI using the same formula it would to determine how much you would receive in Social Security retirement benefits, were you at an age where you could receive them. To compute your primary insurance amount – or your full benefit amount – the SSA first figures out your average monthly income throughout your working life. It then adjusts that figure for historical wage growth and plugs it into a preset formula to arrive at a final number.

How much of your earnings history the SSA considers

How far back the SSA reviews your earnings history to determine your average monthly income depends on how old you were when you became disabled. Typically, the administration counts the years between when you turned 22 and when you became disabled. It then drops anywhere between one and five of those years. The number that remains determines how many of your highest-earning years are going to impact your primary insurance amount.

The process involved in figuring out how much you might receive in monthly SSDI benefits is complex and depends on the specifics of your work and health history.