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SSI and SSDI - Can I support myself on my disability payment?

One of the most common questions claimants want to know is if their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability payment will be enough to live on or support their families. This is a tough question given the disparity of income and the standard of living between families in the United States.

How much can I get for my SSDI payment?

SSDI payments are paid to employees who are disabled with a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. Not all workers will receive SSDI. Only workers who have been employed long enough, paid enough in employment taxes into the SSA system and who can prove that they are unable to perform substantial gainful employment will earn SSDI benefits.

Workers will receive different amounts of SSDI depending on how much they have contributed in employment taxes and their average wages over the life-time of their employment . Men will generally receive a higher SSDI payment given that their average wages are generally higher over their life-time.

The average monthly SSDI benefit for a disabled worker is approximately $1,070.0. The average monthly SSA disability benefits of spouses and children were much smaller, measuring at $288.50 per month and $317.80 per month respectively.

As mentioned above, this is the average SSDI payment. Your SSA disability payment could be higher or lower depending on several factors. If you need specific information on your SSDI payment you must refer to your Statement of Earnings which is sent to you each year by the Social Security Administration.  If you have lost your Statement of Earnings you can contact the SSA and they may be able to tell you your estimated payment or you can visit their website and use their disability estimator calculator. They no longer send out copies of the Statement of Earnings reports to worker.

How much SSI will I receive?

Claimants who are disabled, blind or aged but who do not have enough work credits to receive SSDI benefits may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI, however, is only for those with VERY limited income and resources. If your income is too high or if your spouse’s income is too high you will not qualify for SSI.

How is the SSI benefit calculated? Unlike SSDI, it is not based on the claimant’s contributions through taxes but is based on the annual Federal Benefit Rate.  For 2012, the Federal Benefit Rate is $698 per month for an individual and $1,048 per month for a couple.  That means the most you can receive individually from the Federal Government on SSI is $698 per month. Claimants in some states may also be eligible for a state supplemental SSI payment.

So, back to the question, can you live on $698 per month? Can you live on an estimated $1,070 per month? Some people can and some people cannot. For some people this will be a dramatic drop in their standard of living. The good news is that SSI claimants, in most states, will also receive Medicaid, and SSDI recipients will also receive Medicare 24 months from the date of their disability. So although it may still be tough, good medical care at a reduced price will definitely help.
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