How Is Your Maximum Disability Benefit Determined?

The Social Security Administration uses amounts paid into Social Security by workers in determining benefits workers qualify for at retirement age of 62 or older. For those filing for disability, a complicated calculation is used, but Supplemental Security Income recipients have no past wage calculation used in determining benefits, says Nolo.

Social Security uses up to 35 years of past employment wage history in the calculation of benefits. Only the years with the highest earnings are added together and divided by the number of years for an average income. This amount is the average indexed monthly earnings, figured in conjunction with the primary insurance amount for benefit calculation, states Nolo.

In 2015, the average disability benefit is $1,665 per month, and the maximum is $2,663 per month. Social Security disability payment determination is based on the amount of money paid into the system from wages earned while working, prior to suffering a disability, if the qualified worker is covered under Social Security Disability Insurance at the time of injury, states Nolo.

Benefit calculators available on the Social Security Administration website help estimate the amount of benefit a person could receive from the federal program, but an actual benefit amount is not available until a claim is filed. Data is analyzed by the administration for determination of payment, and for disability payments, expect a five-month waiting period prior to the start of benefits, states Nolo.