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Why is my Social Security Disability Benefit so low?

Many Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security income claimants wonder why their disability payment is so low. To answer this question you first need to understand how the disability payment is calculated.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) are based on your payroll contribution to the Social Security Trust Fund. The more you have earned and the more you have paid into Social Security, the higher your possible monthly SSDI payment. So how much SSDI are you entitled to receive if you become disabled? There is not a set amount. To find out your estimated SSDI benefit payement you can review your Statement of Earnings, which is sent to you each year by the Social Security Administration, or you can also contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 for specific information. The SSA can walk you through a detailed explanation of how they calculate your SSDI payment.

If you do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance but you qualify for Supplemental Security Income, the maximum you can receive is based on the annual Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). For 2011, the Federal Benefit Rate is $674 per month for an individual and $1,011 per month for a couple. That means the most you can receive individually from the Federal Government on SSI is $674 per month. Some states, however, will add what they call a “state supplemental payment” which may make your payment higher in certain states.

Claimants may be able to receive both SSDI and SSI if their SSDI benefits are less than the Federal Benefit Rate. So if a claimant is receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and it is less than the FBR, the claimant may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income up to the Federal Benefit Rate.

Keep in mind, if you are receiving Supplemental Security Income, the SSA evaluates your wages each month and computes your SSI benefit for the month based on how much you earned in that month. This is considered your "countable income."

A claimant's first $65 of their Countable Income is not considered by the SSA, but any earnings above $65 will be used to reduce your SSI payment for that month, reducing the SSI benefit $1 for every $2 that you earn above $65.

For example, assume you are receiving $674 (the federal amount for 2011). Assume you had Countable Earnings of $365.

• $365 less $65 leaves $300.
• $300 X .5 = $150.
• $674 (normal SSI) – $150 = $524 which will be the SSI payment for that month.
• $524 (SSI) + $365 (wages) = $760 which is total income for that month.

These calculations will not be completed by the Social Security before your SSI check is processed and mailed to you each month so it is important to keep your own records. If an overpayment is made by the SSA you will have to repay it.

If you would like a disability attorney to review your claim you can fill out the FREE evaluation form and a disability advocate will call you to review your claim or you can call our office at 1-800-641-3759 to talk to someone now.