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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

How Does Social Security Calculate My Monthly Disability Benefits?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Oct 26, 2018 | 0 Comments

People often ask me how much they can expect to get in monthly benefits if Social Security approves them for disability. I always say that Social Security uses a complicated formula and we won't know for sure until after we win the case.  It turns out that I was partially right--it is a complicated formula. But, if you are good with math or have a calculator handy, you can figure it out.

Okay, Math Nerds: This One's For You

As I understand it, this is what Social Security does to determine what your monthly disability benefits. First, they have to figure out how many years of earnings to use in their

This Is Easy In Comparison

calculations. For retirement benefits, this number is 35.  But, because disability can prevent a worker from putting in 35 years, it would be unfair to use that number when so many of the years would have zero earnings.  So, Social Security uses this formula:

Take your current age and subtract 22. That gives you the number of full years in your potential career as an adult so far. Take one-fifth of that number of years. Round it down to the nearest whole number, but if it's less than 2, use 2 instead. If it's more than 5, use 5 instead. Subtract the second number from the first. The result is the number of years of earnings included in your work history.

Still With Me, Nerds?

With the number of earnings years established, Social Security does another bit of math. They

Carry The Two . . .

take your average monthly earnings for the selected number of years then take 90% of the first $895, and 32% of any amount between $895 and $5,397, and add 15% of any amount over $5,397.

Put all that together and you get your monthly benefit amount.

Or, a headache.

Now For The Easy Way

Unless you really like doing the math, and you happen to know your average monthly earnings, I say skip all this and wait for Social Security to tell you what your monthly disability benefits are going to be. Better yet, get a account and look the number up there.

Just like in math class, you always get the shortcut after you have done all the hard work.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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Feel free to call with any questions or concerns you have about Social Security disability. I never charge for a consultation. In fact, there is no charge at all until we win your case. Unlike most lawyers, I never charge extra for things like telephone calls or making copies.