How Much Social Security Disability Will I Get?

When you’re unable to work due to a disability and you’re applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, it’s only natural to wonder how much those disability payments will be. The answer, of course, depends on several different factors, so it’s not possible to give an exact answer without knowing your specific details.

To get started, here are the issues you need to consider.


The first factor that affects the amount of disability benefits you can receive through Social Security is the program that will be providing those benefits. SSDI benefits come from the Social Security Disability Insurance program, which is based on amounts workers pay into the program through taxes deducted from their wages or collected from self-employment insurance. The amount you receive in benefits depends largely on your average earnings, so the more you earned and the more taxes you paid, the more you could be eligible to receive in SSDI benefits.

SSI or Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is not based on what you paid in. It is a supplemental program designed to help those who need extra assistance and who have not built up enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. The amount of SSI benefits you receive can be impacted by the amount of income you receive from other sources. For instance, if you are able to work some or you receive disability benefits through an employer, your SSI benefits would be reduced to account for that income.

How SSDI Benefits are Calculated

In general, SSDI benefits are calculated based on work history rather than the severity of your disability. Formulas used to determine benefits can be complex. While the maximum SSDI payment someone can receive is over $3,800 per month, most people do not receive nearly that much. Average payments are only a little over $1,500 per month.

To calculate how much a disabled worker should receive, the Social Security Administration first determines “average indexed monthly earnings” or AIME over the course of the worker’s career. They look at the years with the highest earnings, add up the earnings from those years, and then divide by the number of months in that calculation period to establish an average monthly amount. Then they calculate the “primary insurance amount” or PIA. 

The PIA amount essentially amounts to the retirement benefits a worker would receive if they had retired at regular retirement age. Disability benefits are viewed as a form of early retirement.

How SSI Disability Benefits are Calculated

To establish monthly benefit amounts for disability benefits paid through SSI, the Social Security Administration establishes a base amount which is adjusted each year to account for cost-of-living increases. For instance, the amount increased 3.2% in 2024.

For 2024, the maximum SSI amounts are set at $943 per month for an individual and $1,415 for a couple who are both eligible. 

Then those amounts may be reduced to account for other income. If someone earns money through a job or self-employment, their benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 they earn, so benefits decrease by half the amount they have earned. When someone receiving SSI receives income from other sources such as a pension or unemployment benefits, then SSI benefits are reduced by $1 for every $1 they receive.

Help Gaining Disability Benefits Through the Social Security Administration

It can be extremely challenging to demonstrate that you qualify to receive disability benefits through either the SSDI or SSI program. Agency examiners scrutinize applications and supporting materials very closely, and the majority of applications are denied in the first two steps of the process. 

At Burgess & Christensen, we know that applicants for disability benefits may struggle to provide for their own needs and their families, and we know the frustration they experience when their claims are denied. We understand the evidence that the Social Security Administration is looking for and we know how to fight effectively to help those who cannot work receive the benefits they deserve. To find out if we can help you or a loved one receive disability benefits, contact us for a free consultation.