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How does the SSA calculate Social Security disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration reports that approximately 175 million workers are covered by Social Security. However, many Georgia residents are unclear on how Social Security works and how they can receive SSDI benefits.

Generally, if you work and receive a paycheck, the government will take 6.2 percent out of your paycheck and your employer will pay an additional 6.2 percent. If you are self-employed, you may pay a self-employment tax of 12.4 percent.

If you qualify for Social Security, you can receive both retirement and disability benefits. If you are unable to work due to an injury, illness or disability, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits, assuming you have earned enough work credits and were employed at the time of the disability. If you are a disabled worker, your spouse may also recover disability benefits if they are at least 62 or care for a child under 16 or is disabled. Additionally, if your spouse has passed away, you and your children could recover survivor benefits in certain cases.

Social Security benefits, both retirement and disability, are calculated by the SSA based on several factors including your work history. The SSA will calculate your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME), by adjusting your yearly income for inflation, taking your 35 highest earning years, and calculating your average monthly income. Then, the SSA will look at your primary insurance amount (PIA). For example, your PIA will be 90 percent of your AIME up to the first $895. Finally, they will adjust the amount of benefits you collect every year based on cost of living.

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