How are SSDI Benefits Calculated in Florida?

How are SSDI Benefits Calculated in Florida?

Category: Social Security

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal disability program that provides financial support to qualified applicants who are no longer able to work due to a medical impairment. SSDI benefits provide a much-needed financial lifeline to support people and families whose lives have been disrupted by an injury or illness. 

You may be wondering: How much will I receive in SSDI benefits? The answer depends primarily on how much you paid into the system. In this blog post, our Melbourne, FL Social Security disability attorney provides a more detailed explanation of the most important things to know about how SSDI benefits are determined in Florida. 

Starting Point: You Must be Approved to Receive Any SSDI Benefits

You will not receive any Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits unless your claim is approved by the agency. The first step in the process is preparing a well-supported application so that you can get SSDI benefits. To qualify for SSDI benefits in Florida, you must meet the following: 

  • Technical Requirements: Not everyone is insured under SSDI. As the program is funded through federal payroll tax contributions (FICA), a worker must have been enough into the system in order to be enrolled for coverage. 
  • Medical Requirements: If you are covered by SSDI, you will need to provide detailed medical evidence proving the existence and severity of your disability. Without adequate medical records, your Florida SSDI claim will be denied. 

Note: If you do not qualify for SSDI benefits on technical grounds—generally due to lack of a long enough work history—you may be eligible for Social Security benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is based on financial need and disability status. 

Determining Your SSDI Benefits: Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) 

Once your SSDI claim is approved, the Social Security Administration (SSA) must determine the proper monthly benefit. Approval will be based on technical eligibility (work history) and medical eligibility (disability status). For the purposes of determining SSDI benefits, the SSA treats all qualifying disabilities the same—meaning you will not get more money because your disability is more severe. Instead, your SSDI benefits are based on how much you paid into the system. 

The federal government uses a formula that computes a beneficiary’s  “Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).” In effect, this means that the SSA will figure out how much you were making on average prior to your disability. Your SSDI benefits—which are designed to make up for your loss of income/earnings—will be paid out in proportion to your AIME. If you have any questions about your AIME and your SSDI benefits, an experienced Florida Social Security disability lawyer can help 

Social Security Disability Law: A Maximum Monthly SSDI Benefits

As noted above, SSDI benefits are calculated largely based on your pre-disability earnings history. The more you paid into the system, the greater your benefit. However, federal Social Security taxes do not apply to the entire portion of every worker’s earnings. Any income earned above $147,000 (2022) will not be taxed for Social Security. As such, there is a maximum monthly Social Security benefits, including a maximum monthly SSDI benefits. For 2022, the greatest possible monthly SSDI benefit is $3,345. The average monthly SSDI benefit is around $1,300. 

Dispelling Three of the Most Myths About SSDI Calculations

There are plenty of misconceptions about the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the calculation of benefits. Applicants should know their rights and responsibilities. Here are three of the most common myths about SSDI benefit calculations: 

  • SSDI Benefits are Based on Severity of Disability: False. Severity of disability does not impact the amount of your SSDI benefits. This is a very common misconception about Social Security disability claims. For the purposes of SSDI, an applicant is either disabled or not disabled. If they are disabled—and are otherwise covered by the program—then there benefits will be calculated based on the pre-disability earnings. 
  • SSDI Benefits Never Change Once Approved: False. SSDI benefits can change. First, SSDI benefits are adjusted most years to account for changes in the average cost-of-living (inflation). Each year, the SSA applies a formula and adjusts benefits as necessary. Beyond that, SSDI benefits are subject to periodic review. If an applicant is no longer “disabled”, then their benefits can be cut off by the federal agency. 
  • Social Security Payments are Cut Off When You Reach Retirement Age: This is misleading. When an SSDI recipient hits their age of retirement, the SSDI benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits. While a beneficiary will technically no longer receive SSDI benefits, they will start receiving Social Security retirement benefits without any disruption. The amount of the monthly benefit will not change. You will simply transition from one type of benefit to another. 

SSDI Benefits are Adjusted for Cost-of-Living (COLA)

SSDI benefits are recalculated each year in order to keep pace with inflation. This is especially important in the current economic environment. As explained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) of 5.9% was applied for SSDI benefits for 2022. It is one of the sharpest one year increases in Social Security disability benefits since 1982. 

To be clear, SSDI benefits are not guaranteed to rise each year. While the SSA’s COLA formula does result in an increase in benefits most years, there are some exceptions. For example, no cost-of-living increase was applied to SSDI benefits in 2016. SSDI benefits will only be increased if the federal government determines that the cost of living is rising. 

Schedule a Free, Confidential Consultation With an SSDI Attorney in Central Florida

At Huddleston, Robbins & Riddle, P. A., our Central Florida Social Security disability lawyer has extensive experience handling Social Security Disability Insurance claims. Do you have questions about SSDI claims, we can help. Contact our law firm today for a no cost, no commitment review of your case. From our offices in Orlando and Melbourne, we provide SSDI representation throughout Central Florida, including in Orange County, Seminole County, Brevard County, and Volusia County. 

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