Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal disability benefit programs each have different eligibility requirements and pay different amounts in monthly benefit payments. But one important feature they both share is how they define a qualifying disability.
Bipolar Disorder is undeniably recognized as a qualified impairment on which a successful disability claim can be based. That is because in appropriate cases, it fits the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of a disability:
The Social Security Administration defines a “disability” is a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and that prevents the person from performing substantial gainful activities (SGA).”
If your bipolar disorder is sufficiently severe to prevent you from performing employment activities enabling you to earn at least $1,350 per month (2022’s SGA Income Limit), then you will be entitled to the same full amount of disability benefits as you would receive if you had any other qualifying physical or mental impairment.
Attorney Daniel Berger and Law Offices of Daniel Berger are committed to getting you the maximum disability benefits to which you are entitled. Contact our office today if you have questions about whether your bipolar disorder or other mental impairment entitles you to monthly benefit payments.
Mental Impairments Are Paid the Same Benefit Amount as Physical Impairments
Some people may assume that a serious orthopedic injury is recognized as “more real” or worth more than a mental impairment like bipolar disorder. This is absolutely untrue.
The only difference between how Social Security assesses various impairments for severity is whether they meet the criteria published by the Social Security Administration in its Index of Impairments, a volume commonly called the Blue Book. The criteria against which a respiratory impairment is measured will be different from the criteria used to measure the severity of someone’s bipolar disorder.
Once a disability is approved as severe enough to qualify for disability benefits, and the claimant has been deemed otherwise eligible, the monthly benefit payment amount is established by factors entirely unrelated to the nature of the disability.
How Much Will Your Bipolar Disorder Monthly Disability Payment Be?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSD) determines the amount of your monthly benefit payment by looking at your average annual income over your 35 highest-earning years as reflected in your IRS tax returns. Your taxable income is what Social Security uses as the starting figure.
The SSA then “indexes” your average income by comparing each year to the national average income. The resulting figure is called your “Average Indexed Monthly Earnings” (AIME). Since everyone’s income varies over the course of their working life, the amount they receive in monthly benefit payments will be different. The reason is that the benefit amount is partially based on how much you paid into the system in payroll or self-employment taxes.
Next, SSD takes your AIME (average earnings amount) and runs it through a formula, one they use for every SSD claim. Here’s how they apply the formula to your AIME:
- Start with 90% of the first $1,024 dollars, plus
- 35% of the amount between $1,024 and $6,172, plus
- 15% of the amount over $6,172
- Round down to the nearest $0.10 if not already a multiple of 10.
- The figure produced by this formula is your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA)
The formula is exactly the same formula used to determine how much you will receive when you file for your retirement benefits once you reach your Full Retirement Age (FRA).
Let’s use an example. If your Average Indexed Monthly Income (AIME) is $4,600, your PIA (your monthly benefit payment amount) would be figured like this:
- 90% of the first $1,024 = $921.60, plus
- 35% of the amount between $1,024 and $6,172 = $1,261.50, plus (4,600 – 1024 = 3576 x .35)
- 15% of any amount over $6,172 = $0 (AIME does not exceed $6,172. Tops out at $4600).
Result = $921.60 + $1,261.50 + 0 = $2,183.10 (No need to round down since already at .10)
By this method, every Social Security Disability monthly benefit amount is determined, regardless of the nature of the claimant’s physical or mental impairment.
How Much Supplement Security Income Can You Get for Bipolar Disorder?
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program uses an entirely different method to calculate the amount of benefits you would receive each month. But the amount you receive has nothing to do with the nature of your impairment. If you have a qualified disability and you are otherwise eligible, SSI uses its own formula to determine monthly benefit payment amounts.The SSI has a lower monthly benefit payment and starts their calculation for every single claimant by granting them the same beginning point, the maximum benefit amount. In 2022, that amount is $841.
SSI differs from the SSD program because SSI is designed only to provide financial assistance to low-income disabled people who have very limited financial resources. Then, SSI examines what the benefit recipient’s other earned and unearned income are. Based on that information, and a number of more complex sets of rules determining which income counts and which income does not count, the original maximum benefit amount is reduced by deducting the amount of any non-exempt countable income the person receives from other sources.
Attorney Daniel Berger and Law Offices of Daniel Berger can explain everything you want to know about how your monthly disability payment amount is determined. Contact us today for immediate help.