When people are about to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) benefits, they want to know how much they will receive in monthly benefit payments. The answer is different for every individual. Every SSD benefit recipient’s benefit amount is determined by the taxable income they’ve earned over their working years.
In this blog post, we’ll explain how the amount of your SSD benefit payment will be determined, how the Social Security Administration (SSA) arrives at that figure. Uncertainty about important facts, especially involving financial issues, causes stress and anxiety. At London Eligibility, Attorney Scott London wants every client to be fully informed about all the factors affecting their SSD benefits claim.
Does Bipolar Get the Same Disability Benefit Payments as Physical Impairments?
Bipolar deserves and gets precisely the same disability benefit payments as a claimant would receive for a physical disability. In fact, your claimed disability has no effect whatsoever on the amount of disability benefits.
Under Social Security law and regulations, a claimant either has a qualified disability or the don’t. If the SSD applicant meets the criteria the Social Security Administration uses to determine the presence of a qualifying disability, then the nature of the disability does not affect the benefits to which that person is entitled.
Social Security defines all disabilities the same way:
“ . . . a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) that prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities.”
This definition applies to physical as well as mental impairments. There is no discount of your disability merely because it is a mental impairment instead of a physical one.
How Is Your Social Security Disability Benefit Amount Determined?
The amount of every SSD claimant’s disability benefit is determined by applying the same formula to each person’s individual history of earnings.
To determine a disability claimant’s monthly benefit amount for SSD, the government looks at all your reported taxable earnings since you began working. Then it takes the 35 highest earning years and puts them through a process called “indexing.”
Indexing is performed to adjust your earnings numbers upward to reflect the increase in the cost of living for each year of income being used in the benefit calculation. Once indexed, your 35 highest earning yearly incomes are added together. The resulting sum is divided by 35 to arrive at an average annual income. Then, the average annual income is divided by 12 to produce your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings, or AIME.
Your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) is the figure that gets plugged into the formula shown below to ultimately provide your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), the amount you will receive in monthly benefits.
The Formula Used to Determine Your Monthly Benefit Amount
To explain and illustrate the formula used by the Social Security Disability Program to identify your monthly benefit amount, we’ll use a hypothetical disabled worker named Sam. For our example, let’s say Sam’s Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) is $5,820.
The benefit amount determination formula is as follows:
- 1). Add 90% of the first $1,024 of Sam’s AIME = $921.60, plus
- 2). 32% of Sam’s AIME over $1,024 through $6,172 = $1,647.36, plus
- 3). 15% of Sam’s AIME over $6,172 = 0
- 4). $921.60 + $1,647.36 + 0 = $2,568.96
- 5). Round down to the next lowest $0.10 if not already a multiple of 10.
Final Primary Insurance Amount (monthly benefit) = $2,568.90
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is one of only a few impairments considered by the American Psychological Association to be a “Serious Persistent Mental Illness” (SMPI). The disorder varies in the degrees to which it impacts individuals’ lives, but the effects of the illness can cause a devastating impact on the daily functioning of those suffering from bipolar disorder.
Some bipolar sufferers can continue to work and function in the day-to-day employment environment. Their bipolar may be well controlled with medication or other treatment, or they may have infrequent episodes severe enough to disrupt their lives for limited periods. Others, however, suffer deeply and regularly from bipolar’s effects, anxiety levels so high they inhibit social interaction and leave the person unable to cope with a work environment. Some bipolar sufferers experience such profound depression that they can’t bring themselves to participate in daily life.
London Eligibility Wants to Help You Get Social Security Disability Benefits
London Eligibility is an organization devoted to helping people with disabilities of all kinds apply for and winning approval of the SSD and SSI benefits they deserve. Led by Attorney Scott London, London Eligibility is a team of lawyers and advocates specially trained to do the heavy lifting for people who want to file Social Security Disability benefits.