Average Social Security Disability Benefits By State
Data Journalist and Content Lead
January 31, 2023 · 3 min read
For people who can’t work because of a health condition or disability, there are two types of federal disability benefits. They differ primarily based on whether or not someone has ever been able to work.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to individuals who have worked for years and paid Social Security taxes, but can’t work any more because of a disability or health condition. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to low-income individuals who have little or no work history and aren’t able to work because of a medical condition.
Both types of benefits are managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). According to 2022 data from the SSA, there are nearly 7.9 million disabled workers receiving SSDI. There are just over 6.5 million SSI recipients.
Average disability benefits in 2022
SSA data from 2022 shows that the average monthly SSDI benefit is $1,358.30 for disabled workers. That average is well below the maximum possible benefit — about $3,300 per month in 2022 and about $3,600 in 2023. Someone’s exact SSDI benefit will depend on their work history. (See how disability benefits are calculated.)
The average monthly SSI benefit is much lower at $568.13. The maximum SSI benefit was also quite low at just $841 per month in 2022 ($914 in 2023).
If these average benefits sound low to you, it’s because they are. A previous Atticus study found that disability benefits aren’t enough to live on. No matter which state someone lives in, SSDI benefits are rarely enough to cover half of living expenses and SSI benefits cover less than a third of living expenses.
States with the highest and lowest SSDI benefits
New Jersey recipients have the highest average Social Security disability check at $1,505.33 per month, while SSDI recipients in Washington, D.C., have the lowest average monthly benefits at $1,209.39.
In most states, SSDI benefits are worth between $1,300 and $1,400 monthly, on average. Just eight states have an average benefit worth more than $1,400 and only one state (New Jersey) has an average monthly benefit worth more than $1,500. At the other end, there are 11 states where average SSDI benefits are worth less than $1,300 per month.
The state someone lives in doesn’t affect the value of their disability check but factors that vary by state — like average incomes or employment rates — could have an indirect effect on SSDI benefit amounts.
The SSI benefits don’t vary much by location. The difference between the state with the highest average SSI benefit (Washington, D.C.) and the lowest average SSI benefit (North Dakota) is just $75.38 per month. The average monthly SSI benefit is worth between $500 and $600 in nearly all states, with the exception of Washington, D.C., where the average benefit is $606.08.
The low variability in benefit amounts is likely due to Supplemental Security Income working a bit differently than SSDI. In 2023, someone can only qualify for SSI benefits if their total income is $914 or less (that number is up from $841 in 2022). So a person with no income at all could qualify for the maximum SSI benefit of $914, but someone who’s earning $300 of monthly income from just about any other source could only qualify for an SSI benefit of $614.
Even with that maximum income requirement, it’s interesting to look at differences in SSI benefits because recipients are people who otherwise have very low income and little opportunity to earn more.
While this guide is a good place to start, the biggest way most applicants can increase their chance of success is to work with a disability lawyer. Applying for disability may not seem like the job of a lawyer, but unfortunately the process is very technical and usually goes through the court system.
Three-quarters of people have their initial claim denied and need to appeal for a hearing in front of a judge. (Judges approved more than 50% of claims at this stage.) Government data shows that applicants with lawyers are three times more likely to win their claim.
Atticus can help you understand if a lawyer could help your claim. Our advice is always free and we can refer you to one of our vetted lawyers (who you don’t have to pay unless they win your case). Start with our 2-minute disability benefits quiz and our team will reach out to learn more about your situation.
See what benefits you qualify for instantly. Take our easy eligibility quiz.
How Much Can I Make on SSDI or SSI in 2023?
By Jackie Jakab
How Are SSDI Payments Calculated?
By Jackie Jakab
See what you qualify for
How long has your condition made it hard to work?
Data Journalist and Content Lead
Derek is a writer and editor who has spent years covering disability benefits, taxes, and personal finances. He loves using data to tell stories, with his work being covered by Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and CNBC, among others. Derek has previously worked for SmartAsset and Policygenius. Follow him on Twitter @cylonderek
At the bottom of many websites, you'll find a small disclaimer: "We are not a law firm and are not qualified to give legal advice." If you see this, run the other way. These people can't help you: they're prohibited by law from giving meaningful advice, recommending specific lawyers, or even telling you whether you need a lawyer at all.
There’s no disclaimer here: Atticus is a law firm, and we are qualified to give legal advice. We can answer your most pressing questions, make clear recommendations, and search far and wide to find the right lawyer for you.
Two important things to note: If we give you legal advice, it will be through a lawyer on our staff communicating with you directly. (Don't make important decisions about your case based solely on this or any other website.) And if we take you on as a client, it will be through a document you sign. (No attorney-client relationship arises from using this site or calling us.)