Close X

Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Why Am I Getting A Smaller Disability Check Than My Neighbor?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Mar 30, 2016 | 2 Comments

Even after Social Security approves them for disability benefits, people still have frustrations. One issue I frequently see comes when a client finds out that somebody else on disability is getting a larger check than she is. I got a call like that this week.  I suppose that is because disability is a government benefit, it seems as if everyone should be getting the same amount. This thinking appeals to our sense of fairness. 

In the case of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, every recipient does get the same amount. Right now, it is $733.00 per month. But, the benefits can vary among SSI beneficiaries in terms of what their actual checks look like. This is because Social Security reduces SSI payments if the beneficiary has almost any other source of income. This other income does not even need to be actual money. It can be the value of something, such as someone else providing a place to live or food to eat.

For those people on SSDI, the monthly benefit amount is always going to vary. That is because it is based on what the claimant paid into Social Security during her working career.  The more she paid in, the more she will get back. It's really that simple. If the amount is less than the SSI limits, you can receive both SSI and SSDI to get you to the $733.00 per month. At the same time, there is also a maximum benefit. That is currently $2,639.00 per month. 

Can I Get More Money If I Am More Disabled?

A similar question is whether a beneficiary can increase the amount of her monthly benefit because her condition has worsened. The notion underlying this query seems to be that a person's monthly benefit is tied to the severity of her medical problems. But, that is not the case. Social Security looks only at numbers to determine how much money you will get.  Once you are disabled, you are disabled. You cannot get more disabled. Even if you could, you would still not get additional benefits.

Doesn't Go As Far Anymore

Social Security Always Pays The Highest Benefit You Are Entitled To

Keep in mind, benefits for the disabled can go up, sometimes dramatically. But, this, too, is purely a matter of math. For example, a disabled person might be able to collect on a parent or deceased spouse's earning record.  The details of this are too complicated for this post. But, if a disabled person can switch to a higher earnings record, her monthly benefits will go up. I saw this once with a woman who was getting only SSI. Decades later, her father died. Under special rules about being disabled before the age of 22, this woman saw her benefits more than double. 

While it can be frustrating to see other people getting more government benefits than you, there is a system in place. For all of its faults, Social Security is very good about always paying the highest amount any person is entitled to receive.

I would love to hear from you with any questions or comments. 

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.


Michele Regal Reply

Posted Apr 01, 2016 at 14:54:10

Hello John,
Once again, a great article. I have a question about SSDI. Once a person who is receiving SSDI reaches retirement age, will the payments from SSA remain the same as the SSDI the person has always received, or will the amount go up or down, based on the amount of payment that they would have received had they never received SSDI benefits? In other words, if when a recipient of SSDI becomes age 62, can benefits be reduced?

John Kuhnlein Reply

Posted Apr 01, 2016 at 16:17:40

Excellent question and a good topic for another blog post. The bottom line, though, is a person’s monthly benefits should be more or less exactly the same upon reaching retirement age. Check back for a more detailed answer. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

About Our Firm

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

Free Consultation

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.