Question of the Month: Will Social Security disability benefits replace my work income?

June 11, 2019

This is a good question in an area that is often misunderstood.

The intent of the Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs is to provide a safety net for Americans who are unable to work due to a serious injury or illness. Whether or not disability benefits will replace the full amount of your work income depends on how much you earned prior to becoming disabled.

SSDI and SSI benefits are modest, and in most cases, the monthly benefit checks will not match your pre-disability income. If you were in a middle or high income class, SSDI benefits will likely fall significantly short of what you were earning before.

The maximum payment amount is known as the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), and it changes each year, based on inflation and other factors. For 2019 the FBR for SSDI is $2,861, but keep in mind that is the maximum. The average monthly SSDI check is around $1,220. Your average lifetime earnings determine your SSDI payment amount, so you may receive more or less than these amounts depending on your work history and your average lifetime income.

There is a FBR for SSI benefits, also. The maximum 2019 benefit amount for individuals who are eligible for SSI is $771 a month. For married couples in which both partners receive SSI, the combined monthly maximum benefit is $1,157. The Social Security Administration factors in all sources of your income and all your financial resources when setting your monthly SSI payments, including help you receive from family members.

While Social Security disability benefits most often do not replace pre-disability income, they frequently provide a lifeline in terms of income and health insurance for people who would otherwise be unable to make ends meet.

If you are confused or uncertain about your benefits, there is no reason to guess. Call Nash Disability Law today for a free consultation.