Question: How Can I Get More Money from Disability?

Disability FAQs: “How Can I Get More Money?”

Important: We updated this article in January 2024 using the Social Security Administration’s most recent data and policies. We’ve gotten a ton of emails from readers all asking the same question: “How can I get more money for my disability?” Today, we’ll provide answers for every scenario people asked us about below.

“I’m on SSDI. Can I Get My Disability Reevaluated, Then Receive More Money?”

Unfortunately, no. The reason why is simple: Your benefit amount isn’t based on your symptoms, or which health condition(s) you have. You can’t get paid more money because your symptoms got worse, or for any other medical reason.

Once you qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, your average monthly paycheck over a 35-year work history determines your benefit pay amount. Here’s how the formula works:

  1. The Social Security Administration (SSA) averages your highest monthly paychecks from before you stopped working. You must also work full-time for 5 in the last 10 years while paying into Social Security to qualify for SSD payments.
  2. Then, they adjust that monthly amount for current inflation.
  3. Your monthly SSDI payment equals a percentage of that final amount. In most cases, it’s 40% of your average monthly paycheck during your highest-paid decade of work.

However, the percentage you get paid in SSD benefits isn’t always exactly 40%. It depends on whether your wages were lower than average, about average, or higher than average for any given year. For example: In 2022, the average wage index amount was $63,795.13. If your annual salary was $30,000 in 2022, your SSDI payment should equal closer to 75% of your monthly paycheck. But if you earned $90,000, your SSDI payment could be as little as 27% of your average monthly paycheck. The SSA uses an identical formula to calculate who gets paid more money (or less) in retirement benefits based on these percentages.

Can I Get My Disability Reevaluated for More Money?

“I Get $622 Each Month in SSI Disability. Can I Get More Money If My Health Has Gotten Worse?”

Unfortunately, no. This is a slightly different question since the person asked specifically about SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. SSI payments come out of the federal government’s general tax fund. If you didn’t work recently or enough years to qualify for SSDI, then you may get SSI disability.

Unlike SSDI, the government doesn’t use your past work earnings to calculate your SSI payment. Instead, nearly all people on SSI receive the maximum monthly payment. In 2024, the max SSI payment any individual can receive is $943 a month. But for couples, it’s $1,415 per month.

However, this reader says she gets just $622 in monthly SSI and needs more money to live on. That’s likely because SSI benefits automatically qualify you for Medicaid health coverage. So, her SSI payment shows how much her state deducts to cover her monthly Medicaid premiums. It’s impossible to get more money in SSI benefits based on your medical condition or symptoms. However, many states pay additional cash to SSI recipients on top of their federal payments.

In addition, in many states, anyone who currently draws SSI automatically qualifies for other financial assistance programs. This includes things like SNAP, TANF, Section 8 housing vouchers, or help covering energy bills and home repairs.

Related: Slideshow: Social Security Disability FAQs

My Health Has Gotten Worse...

“How Do I Get Approved For More Money? What Has To Be Happening To Someone To Get More Money?”

Honestly, there are just a few ways to get more money each month once you’re on disability. One involves working and paying more Social Security taxes (also known as FICA taxes). Once you qualify for SSDI, your health problems may improve enough for you to start working again in time. But you don’t have to give up your benefits just to try working a few hours each week.

Instead, the SSA’s Ticket to Work program specifically helps people on SSD ease back into the job market. That program gives you all the resources you need to start working part time or even work from home. You can work for up to nine months before deciding whether you can handle full-time jobs again. This is known as your “trial work period” and you keep drawing benefits while you work. You’ll also keep your Medicare or Medicaid coverage during your trial work period. But if you work to earn more money without reporting it to the Social Security Administration, they’ll stop paying your benefits.

Your second way to get more money is through each year’s approved cost-of-living-adjustment increase. The federal government announces each year’s COLA increase in October, which goes into effect the following January. Last year’s COLA increase was reached a 42-year high of 8.7%; the COLA for January 2024 was 3.2%. Any veteran, retiree, SSDI or SSI recipient automatically gets a raise equal to that percentage amount. In other words, if your SSD payment is $2,000 in December 2023, then it changes to $2,064 in January 2024. However, the federal government doesn’t guarantee a COLA increase every year.

What Has to Happen for Me to Get More Money?

“My Brother-in-Law’s Disability Went Up In April, Mine Didn’t. Did I Do Something Wrong?”

A third way to get more money each month involves the SSA’s twice-yearly AERO recalculation of benefits. This happens every March and October, and the SSA uses your state and federal income tax information to do this. Basically, when you apply for SSD, they look at your previous year’s earnings and the year before you became disabled. You might mistakenly submit incomplete income information or other things that result in a lower payment than you deserve. If the SSA owes you more money than you currently get, they increase your pay amount automatically after each AERO recalculation.

Another reason why some people’s payments appear to go up randomly during the year? Because of things like the workers’ compensation offset. If you get workers’ comp due to a serious job injury, then you’ll likely start drawing Social Security disability next.

Let’s say you are in a major trucking accident and must surrender your commercial driver’s license (CDL). Your doctor says you need a series of back surgeries before you can drive safely again for long distances. If your workers’ compensation runs out after disability begins, then your first few SSD payments will be lower. For example: You get $500 in workers’ comp and $1,000 in Social Security disability each month for half a year. Once workers’ comp payments end, your SSD amount goes up to $1,500 per month. This higher SSD payment reflects the amount originally “offset” by your workers’ compensation benefits.

My BIL's Disability Went Up. Mine Didn't. Did I Do Something Wrong?

“I Split My Time Between Michigan & California. Does My State Matter for Getting Disability? Which One Pays More Money?”

Your state could make a difference, but only because a handful have their own state-run disability programs. The following U.S. states are the only ones that pay short-term or temporary disability benefits:

These payments usually last no more than 6-12 months, depending on which state you live in. If you need more money and already get federal disability, then you likely qualify for these programs, too.

How to Find Out if You Qualify for Disability (And How Much) Before Filing Your Claim

Thinking about applying for Social Security disability? Having an experienced Social Security attorney help you apply makes you nearly 3x more likely to get benefits. If you don’t get benefits, then you owe your lawyer $0. And if you do win, you’ll only pay one small fee after the SSA awards you benefits.

Since these lawyers charge $0 up front, you can find out whether you qualify for benefits over the phone before you start your application. We can match you with an expert near you to explain your chances of qualifying for payments completely free of charge!

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to sign up for free expert claim help by phone now:

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.