Determining How Much Your SSDI Benefits are Worth in Virginia – Social Security Disability Calculator


“How much money Will I Receive in SSDI?”


One of the most common questions I get as a disability lawyer in Richmond VA is, “How much is my SSDI claim worth?” And it’s an important question. My clients want – and deserve – to know how much money they’ll receive in SSDI benefits if their application for Social Security disability is approved. They’re anxious to plan their life after disability. And knowing their expected monthly SSDI benefit amount helps them do that.


Unfortunately the answer is not straightforward. Usually the monthly amount for SSDI benefits is higher than the monthly SSI amount because your SSDI benefits are based on your past earnings. But determining the exact amount of money each person will receive if approved for SSDI benefits is complicated. This article describes how the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates how much money you’ll receive if your SSDI claim is approved.


If you have a question about applying for Social Security disability in Virginia, presenting your case at a SSD hearing before an administrative law judge, or anything else related to disability law, contact Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We proudly serve residents of Richmond, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Williamsburg, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and surrounding areas.


The Social Security Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)


The SSA uses the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) to determine your cash benefits under the SSDI benefits. The PIA is based on your lifetime taxable earnings averaged over the number of years you worked. This figure produces a monthly benefit amount that partially replaces the loss of your income because of disability.


How Does the SSA Determine Your Average Earnings


For those of you found disabled in 1979 or later, the SSA bases your PIA (and therefore the amount of your SSDI benefits) on the Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).


The SSA indexes your earnings from 1951 through the second year before the year you first become eligible for SSDI benefits. The term “indexes” means that the SSA adjusts your yearly earnings in proportion to the earnings level of all workers for applicable years.


The SSA has stated that it uses adjusted earnings instead of your actual earnings to reduce the differences between a younger worker’s average income an older worker’s average income. In theory the older disabled worker’s earnings would include lower amounts that were earned and taxable in the first few years of working. This presumes that most people’s income increases as they get older.


Using the AIME to Get Your PIA


After the SSA determines your AIME, it then calculates your primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is a total of fixed percentages of predetermined dollar ranges of your AIME. The SSA uses your PIA to determine your actual monthly SSDI benefit.


Your PIA equals the sum of the following:


  • 90 percent of the first $761 of the AIME plus
  • 32 percent of the amount above $761 up through $4,586 plus
  • 15 percent of any amount over $3,586


Here is an example:


John Doe has an AIME of $5,000.


In 2016 the SSA would calculate John Doe’s PIA as follows:


  • 90% x the first $856 in earnings = $770.40
  • 32% x (5,000 – 856) = $1326.08
  • $1326.08 + 770.40 = $2096.48


John Doe’s PIA is $2096.50 when rounded to the nearest tenth.


What is the Maximum SSDI Benefit Amount that You Can Receive?


In 2017 the average SSDI payment is $1,171 per month. But you can receive up to $2,687 per month in SSDI benefits based on your average lifetime earnings.


Family members who are dependent on the disabled adult may be eligible for auxiliary benefits.


A disabled child who is eligible to receive benefits on the disabled adult’s record will receive 50% of the disabled adult’s PIA. If the disabled adult dies, the child’s percentage increases to 75% of the PIA.


There is a cap on how much one family can receive in SSDI benefits. This cap is called the maximum family benefit (MFB).


The MFB amount cannot exceed 85% of the disabled adult’s AIME or 150% of the disabled adult’s PIA.


In 2016 the SSA calculated the MFB benefit for a disabled worker’s family as follows:


  • 150% of the first $1,093 of the PIA, plus
  • 272% of the PIA from $1,094 through $1,578, plus
  • 134% of the PIA from $1,579 through $2,050, plus
  • 175% of the PIA over $2,058


As you can see, it is difficult to calculate your PIA or MFB under the SSDI program. Your Richmond VA disability lawyer will examine the figures to make sure that the SSA did not make a mistake in calculate the amount of SSDI benefits you and your family are owed.


To give you an idea of how much you may receive if you’re approved for SSDI, let’s look at the average monthly Social Security benefits paid to different people and families in 2016:


  • Widowed mother with two children under 18: $2,680
  • Couple where both members are receiving retirement benefits: $2,212
  • Disabled worker with a spouse and at least one child depending on him or her: $1,983
  • Retired worker receiving regular Social Security retirement benefits: $1,341
  • Disabled worker receiving SSDI benefits: $1,166


Remember, these figures are just averages and general rules when trying to answer, “How much is my SSDI benefits claim worth in Virginia?” And if you’re receiving workers compensation benefits, your SSDI benefits may be reduced. As a Virginia workers compensation lawyer we can help you settle your workers compensation claim in a way that increases your monthly SSDI cash payments.



Are SSDI Payments Retroactive?


Yes. You can receive up to 12 months of Social Security disability back pay. The amount you receive depends on your established onset date of disability.


When will the SSA Tell Me How Much My SSDI Claim is Worth?


When your claim is approved medically, you may receive a call from the SSA to confirm that you meet the non-medical requirements of the SSDI program.


Some of you will not receive a phone call. The first time you’ll receive notice is when the SSA sends you a letter advising of your approval, your monthly cash benefit amount, your total back benefit amount, and the effective date of your disability. This letter is known as the SSA Notice of Award.


Richmond Disability Lawyers Here to Help You Fight for Your SSDI Benefits – Your Social Security Disability Calculator


We know how important your disability benefits are for you and your family. We’ll fight to get the maximum amount of SSDI benefits for you as fast as possible. Call or e-mail us today to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability Insurance lawyer.