Veterans who are eligible for both VA benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can receive both types of payments independently of each other. Whatever the VA benefits a veteran receives does not have any impact on the amount of SSDI benefits possible for them. The SSA calculates the amount of benefits it pays to SSDI recipients on a complex formula that takes into account work history, the severity of the disability, regional cost of living and other factors. In 2023, the maximum SSDI payment per month is currently $3,627.
Monthly Benefit Amount From SSDI
The maximum amount of SSDI benefits payment per month ($3,627) is payable to both veterans and nonveterans. The specific amount an individual SSDI beneficiary receives is determined independently of (1) whether the recipient is a veteran or not, and (2) how much in veterans benefits they are receiving. It is important to note that the average SSDI benefit payment each month (currently around $1,358) is not nearly as much as the maximum payable amount of $3,627.
What Is SSDI?
SSDI is one of two disability benefits systems administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI is available for applicants who (1) are severely disabled as determined by the SSA’s criteria, and (2) have worked for long enough to pay over a threshold of Social Security insurance via their payroll taxes. For disabled people who apply for disability benefits but do not reach the SSA’s threshold for condition severity, or who have not worked for long enough, they may find that they’re not eligible for SSDI benefits. However, they may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which can be paid out to people who have limited income and assets. Veterans who are receiving VA benefits but are not eligible for SSDI may still qualify for SSI. However, in this case, their VA benefit payments are taken into account to determine eligibility as these payments are not considered ‘paid employment’.
How to Determine Your SSDI Amount
The main criterion taken into account by the SSA when calculating your SSDI benefit payment is your work history as well as the average monthly earnings while paying payroll taxes (and therefore Social Security insurance contributions). This is called AIME (Average Indexed Monthly Earnings). The SSA then uses a formula to calculate what it calls the Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). This is the basic amount paid to you per month in SSDI benefits. It is adjusted every year for inflation based on the annual COLA (Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment)—so, in 2023, this was determined to be an 8.3% increase on 2022.
You may also have your benefit adjusted depending on projected treatment costs for your disability. SSDI benefits may not be paid out if you earn—through employment—more than $1,470 if you are not blind, or $2,460 if you are blind per month. This monthly amount is called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). So, if you obtain more than the SGA, you will not be eligible for SSDI. Veterans benefits are not considered part of the SGA figure.
Speak With a Disability Attorney
Applying for disability benefits when you are a veteran can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating experience. Your service experience and injuries are not relevant to the SSA, but your work history and the severity of your disability are. You may find it useful to hire a disability attorney to help you with your disability benefits application.
Complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to get connected and speak with a disability attorney today—at zero cost to you.