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Why is my disability payment so low?

Disability payment varies by claimant


One of the common themes from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients is why their disability payment they receive each month from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is so low. Many disability recipients have discussed their disability payment with other recipients and do not understand why there is such a discrepancy in payment. This blog will address the reasons your payment may be lower or higher than other claimant’s SSDI or SSI payments.


I live in a state with a state SSI supplemental disability payment


If you get Supplemental Security Income or SSI than your disability payment amount is based on theannual Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). The Federal Government currently pays SSI recipients $698 per month for a qualifying individual. This rate is going to be adjusted next year, but in 2012, this is the maximum you can receive from the Federal Government.

Now, you may be thinking, wait a minute, I get SSI and my disability payment is more than $698. Well, it gets more complicated. States also have the option of adding a state supplemental payment onto the Federal SSI payment. If you live in a state that provides a supplement you will make more than $698.

What if your disability payment is less than $698? This is possible as well if you are working or if you are living with someone who is providing food and shelter for you. Both of these actions can lower your SSI payment below the Federal Benefit Rate.

My SSDI disability payment is lower than other SSDI recipients


It is also not uncommon for many SSDI recipients to have a disability payment higher or lower than another SSDI recipient.Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are based on your average earnings and your payroll tax contribution to Social Security. The more you have paid into Social Security, the more in monthly benefits you may be entitled to receive.

If you worked a very high paying job for many years and contributed a high amount into the SSA system, you will make more than someone who earned less and paid less into the system. You can find out your estimated payment by reviewing your Statement of Earnings which is sent to you each year by the Social Security Administration or contacting the SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Is there a way to increase my SSI or SSDI disability payments?


Unfortunately, if you have been given SSDI or SSI you have been given 100% of what you are entitled to receive. The SSA does not offer partial disability benefits or give you an impairment rating. This means that even if you become “more disabled” the SSA will not increase your SSDI or SSI disability payments. When they gave you SSDI or SSI benefits they made the decision that you cannot work.

Now, occasionally the Social Security Administration does make adjustments to disability payments through a cost of living adjustment or COLAs and there is a COLA scheduled for 2013 so many disability recipients will see their payment increase slightly, and I do mean slightly.