What's the most you can get from SSI or SSDI (DIB)?

Many times I have people describe in detail their disability and limitations that keep them from being able to work. They then ask what benefits their particular disability can receive from the Social Security Administration. Others are confused as to how much money they would receive if they were to win benefits from SSI or SSDI. The answer to these questions are found by first understanding the purposes and differences between the two Social Security benefit programs (SSI and SSDI). Then, you must look at the payment structure of each program.

SSI

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Insurance. It is a needs-based charity program that is set up to help those who are unable to work because of the limitations of their disability and who are in financial need.

For this program, you are either considered "disabled" or not. All medical conditions, disabilities, or limitations are eligible for what is referred to as the "Federal Benefit Rate". The federal benefit rate generally changes yearly due to inflation. For 2013, the benefit rate is $710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple per month. There are rules on payment reduction if someone who receives benefits, or their spouse receives monthly countable income. Read more about payment reduction.

DIB

DIB stands for Disability Insurance Benefits. It is also known as SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). DIB is an insurance program for those who are unable to work because of disability and have paid sufficient FICA taxes from previous work to qualify to receive the benefits.

Like SSI, if a person is considered disabled, the type of disability that he or she suffers from does not influence the amount of benefits received. The amount that an individual can receive is based upon an average of past earnings. In 2013, the average monthly disability payment was $1,132 and the maximum monthly benefit rate was $2,533. In addition to your monthly benefit rate, you can also obtain benefits for your children. The actual math is rather complex but in general, the maximum amount of benefits for you and your family is somewhere between 150% to 180% of your monthly social security disability benefit rate.

Talk to a Social Security Attorney to find out if you qualify for SSI, DIB or family benefits and what your potential benefit amount might be.