This is a tough question to answer for two reasons; the answer is different for different types of benefits and the answer can be very personalized in some situations.

  Concerning SSD benefit rates, the amount of your monthly benefit depends upon how much you worked and what you were paid for that work.  Similarly, if a person qualifies for disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits, his/her benefit rate will be based upon what his/her deceased spouse made while he was working and the length of time he/she worked.

If a person is qualified for disabled adult child benefits, his or her benefit rate is dependent upon what his parent earned while working and how long he/she worked.

With that said, the benefit rates for SSI are very straightforward as they are set and not dependent upon one’s work history and earnings or lack thereof.  Recall that SSI is the disability welfare program, so these benefits are often much lower than those who can qualify for SSD.  In the state of California, the Federal monthly benefit rate for SSI is $733 per individual and $1,100 per eligible couple.  To this, is added a California supplement.  Note that these amounts do go up via cost of living adjustments.

In cases where a child is qualified for children’s SSI benefits, calculating the appropriate benefit rate is far more complicated.  Although the standard monthly benefit rate of $733 (for SSI) applies, there are a whole host of factors that play into calculating deductions on this type of benefit.  The earned and unearned income of one or both parents or step-parents is considered when determining deductions that should be taken.  Whom the child lives with, how many non-disabled children reside in the household and several other factors are considered. 

With all of that said, remember that ongoing benefits are only half the award.  You could also get awarded back benefits which can really add up.  I have seen people get $80,000.00 back benefit checks.  In SSD type cases, back benefits can be awarded up to one year prior to when the claim for benefits was filed, should you be deemed disabled at a prior date.  There is a five month waiting period in some situations, but that is an issue for another blog.  Concerning SSI, you can only be awarded back benefits until the date that your claim for benefits was filed.

Now that we have covered that, understand that the SSA does take credit against your monthly benefits for some other forms of income.  This can get really complicated and any credits taken need to be reviewed by an accredited professional.  Make sure you are in good hands!