October 1, 2016

How Do I Know if my SSDI Monthly Benefit Payment Amount is Correct?

I have found your site and have been reading your comments.  I have been on SSDI since 2002.  I was a registered nurse for 15 years- always working with no lapses.  At on point I was working two full time jobs (no sleep). I worked the two full time jobs for about a year and 1/2.  I earned a very decent living.  I saw in one of your posts that SSDI is usually about $1500 a month.  Mine started at $1200/month- now it is up to $1300/month.  Why the difference in amounts?  I would desperately like to go back to work- but it doesn’t look good.  Every penny counts now.  In this situation does a person have any recall?  Thanks.

Jonathan Ginsberg responds:  Deb, thanks for your question.  Your SSDI benefit amount is a calculation based on how much tax you paid into the Social Security system.  Your disability benefit is calculated based on something called your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).  Your PIA calculation is an exercise in fuzzy math.   You can read more about the PIA calculations on the SSA.gov web site.

I wish I could refer you to a reliable resource that could double check SSA’s PIA calculations but I know of no such resource.  If any of my readers does know of such a resource, please let me know.

What I would recommend is that you request a copy of your earnings and benefit statement.  This statement, which is available to you free of charge from Social Security will show your estimate benefit payment and it will also identify your earnings and contributions to Social Security during those earnings years.  If you see that SSA has failed to credit you for certain earnings or for Social Security tax contributions, you would have the basis to ask for a review of your account and a correction to your record.

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Jonathan Ginsberg represents Social Security disability claimants in Georgia. In practice for over 29 years, Jonathan publishes a widely known disability blog, a podcast and several disability web sites. In 2004, Jonathan published a "how to" book about Social Security disability called the Disability Answer Guide. Jonathan lives with his wife and 2 children in Atlanta.