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Social Security Disability Insurance, more popularly known as SSDI, is the federal program, operated by the states, that pays you monthly benefits when you become disabled and can no longer work.

The National Academy of Social Insurance explains, however, that you must meet strict eligibility requirements to receive SSDI benefits. For instance, you must suffer from a serious condition, or combination of conditions, expected to last for at least a year or to cause your death within that time period. In addition, your past jobs must have been covered by Social Security.

Monthly benefit amount

The amount of SSDI benefits you can receive changes each year to reflect the change in inflation and other factors. It also depends on your average monthly lifetime earnings before becoming disabled. By 2021, experts predict that the average monthly SSDI benefit will be about $1,277.

Keep in mind that your disability must be severe enough that it prevents you not only from working your former job but also any substantially gainful employment. For 2021, this means that you cannot earn more than $1,310 per month in order to receive SSDI benefits. The only exception is if your disability is blindness, in which case you can earn up to $2,190 per month and still receive SSDI benefits.

Who pays

While called a benefit, SSDI actually represents a return to you of some of the money you contributed to the Social Security system over your lifetime of work. If you look at your past pay stubs or W-2 statements, you will see that your employer deducted a certain amount from each one.

Since 1990, this tax amounted to 6.2% of your wages, up to a maximum of $142,800 in 2021, with 5.015% going to Social Security retirement and 1.185% going to disability insurance. Your employer likewise paid an amount equal to 6.2% of your annual wage.

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