What Determines the Dollar Amount a Person Receives From Disability?

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If your doctor determines that you are eligible to qualify for Social Security Disability, the payment amount will be determined based upon several criteria, including your record of earnings. For example, the amount that is earned, as well as the length it was earned in, can determine how much will be paid out as disability benefits. There are two types of Social Security disability programs. One program is called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI; the other is Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

If a person believes he no longer has the capacity to work due to a permanent, disabling condition, then the federal government will provide monetary benefits through the SSDI or SSI programs. In order to qualify for these benefits, you have to demonstrate that the disabling condition is permanent, or is determined by a doctor to last at least 12 months. You must prove that due to your disability, you are unable to earn more than $1,000 a month, according to the Social Security website.

How are Disability Benefits Calculated?

In order to qualify for disability payments, the applicant has to have paid into the Social Security system and accumulated at least 40 credits over a 10-year period. As of 2011, each Social Security credit is based on earning $1,120. A worker has to accumulate four credits, or at least $4,480 in annual income, that an employer can report to Social Security. An employee who can show 40 credits of reported income over a 10-year period can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The amount of the disability benefit paid is based upon the 10-year period where the claimant earned the greatest amount.

SSI Disability Payment Amounts

Social Security will base the amount the claimant receives on whether the person is single or married. The average amount paid ranges from $500 and $2,000 per month. For instance, a single person will receive a monthly benefit payment of $674, and a married couple will receive a SSI disability payment of $1,011. Depending on the state the recipient lives in, the person may be qualified to receive an additional payment, called a state supplementary payment.

Cost of Living Impact

A disabled recipient’s benefit amount is also determined by the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. If there is a CPI adjustment due to a rise in consumer prices, a cost of living adjustment is made to the Federal Benefit Rate, or FBR. This rate is the maximum dollar benefit amount paid out. If there is no increase in the consumer price index during the preceding year, then there will be no cost of living adjustment made to the FBR, or to benefit payments. If there is going to be an adjustment in the FBR, then it will occur on January 1 of the adjustment year.

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