Invest Wisely

Maximum Social Security Disability Benefits

by Mark Sander5 min read
Maximum Social Security Disability Benefits

Millions of Americans suffer from various disabling conditions every year and the number continues to grow. According to the American Community Survey (ACS) of 2015, an estimated 12.6% of the US population are with disabilities. Types of disability include vision, hearing, cognitive, ambulatory and self-care.


These conditions generally interfere with a person’s ability to work and make a living. For this reason, people with disabilities are relying on Social Security benefits to support themselves and their families financially.


Qualifying for Maximum Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program in charge of providing benefits to qualified persons with disabilities. According to the Social Security website, “disability” is based on an individual’s inability to work. Conditions include the inability to resume previous work, inability to perform tasks due to medical conditions and disability that has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year or to result to death. Individuals should also be rendered incapable of earning the minimum amount of monthly wage (assets, unearned income and spouse’s income are not included).


Moreover, beneficiaries should also be younger than their full retirement age (FRA) and have worked for about 10 years in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for the benefits. You are required to have 40 work credits, and the 20 should have been earned during the last 10 years until the year you became disabled.


What is the Maximum Social Security Disability Benefit?

Social Security Disability Benefit is based on your lifetime earnings before disability began. The amount is generally the same as the amount you are supposed to receive at your FRA. In order to get the highest possible benefit at FRA, income should be at or above the Social Security earnings cap (amount subject to payroll tax) for at least 35 years since the age of 22. Taxable earnings ceiling for 2017 is $127,200.


If you are eligible for SSDI, you will receive an average of $1,171 per month. If you have reached your FRA of 66 in 2017 and have reached the highest taxable earnings for each year, the maximum benefit you will get is $2,687 per month.


There is also the “maximum” maximum benefit, which generally refers to delayed retirement credits. Individuals who file at age 70 will receive 7% to 8% increase in the benefit amount for each year the benefit is not claimed.


How is Social Security Benefit Calculated?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a weighted formula in computing for your benefits. Disability benefits are calculated based on the amount of income on which Social Security taxes are paid, otherwise known as covered earnings. The average covered earnings over the years of working is known as Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).  


To calculate for primary insurance amount (PIA) for 2017, SSA will add 90% of the initial $885 of your AIME, plus 32% of AIME between $885 and $5,336, plus 15% of AIME above $5,336.


SSA’s website contains an online calculator that will help you get an estimate of your Social Security benefit.