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Washington disability benefits

How Much Are Disability Benefits in Washington?

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
May 29, 2024  ·  2 min read
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In Washington state, over 300,000 people receive disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These federal programs are offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide financial support and healthcare coverage to anyone unable to work due to an illness or injury.

If you have a disability, you may qualify for these benefits programs. However, the amount of financial support you receive depends on several factors. Read on to learn how much you can get in disability benefits.


What benefits does Washington state offer?

While Washington does not offer state disability benefits, there are several federal and supplementary programs that can provide you with financial assistance.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): If you have worked and paid into social security, you may qualify for SSDI, which provides both monthly income and Medicare.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you do not meet the work requirements of SSDI, you may qualify for SSI, which is reserved for those with few assets and limited income. SSI recipients are also eligible for Medicaid.

  • Veteran disability benefits: Veterans who were disabled during their time in the service can receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. These benefits are available in addition to SSDI and SSI.

  • Private disability Insurance: Many employers offer private disability insurance as part of their benefits packages, but you can also purchase a plan directly from an insurance provider.

  • Workers’ compensation: If your disability is the result of a workplace injury or illness, you may be eligible for workers' comp. This program provides financial compensation and covers medical expenses related to your disability.

We've helped 4,241 people in Washington with disability benefits.

How much is disability in Washington?

The maximum disability payments for SSDI and SSI are consistent nationwide. SSDI recipients can receive up to $3,822 per month, while SSI recipients can get up to $943. Couples receiving SSI can receive up to $1,415 per month.

On average, Washington residents receive monthly payments of $1,798 from SSDI and $624 from SSI.


How is SSDI calculated?

The SSA uses two metrics to calculate your SSDI amount: your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME) and your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).

  • Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME): AIME is calculated by taking an average of your earnings over the years you worked, adjusted for inflation.

  • Primary Insurance Amount (PIA): Your AIME is then used to calculate your PIA, which determines the monthly amount you will receive. The aim is to provide a benefit that reflects your past earnings while also ensuring basic financial support.

You can get a personalized estimate of your potential SSDI benefits by creating an account on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) website or by using our social security calculator to find out your monthly benefit. 


How is SSI calculated?

SSI is determined based on financial need rather than employment history. The SSA uses a formula to ensure that SSI provides support to those who need it most, based on their current financial situation.

  • Federal benefit rate: The SSA starts with the federal benefit rate, which is set at $943 per month for individuals in 2024.

  • Countable income: The SSA then subtracts any of your countable income from the federal benefit rate. Countable income includes most forms of income such as wages, pensions, and unemployment, disability and state benefits.

  • Additional benefits: If you receive other benefits like housing assistance, or have reduced costs because you’re staying with a friend or relative or have a family member paying for your utilities, it may reduce the total benefit amount you receive.

Estimate your disability benefit amount in just a few steps

We'll use the Social Security Administration's formula to estimate your monthly benefit.

Average
monthly check

$1,489


Do I need a disability lawyer in Washington?

Legal representation is not required to apply for disability benefits, but it can drastically improve your chances of approval. On average, those with legal representation are three times more likely to get benefits than those without. Here are several reasons to consider hiring a disability lawyer:

  • Expertise in documentation: The disability benefits application involves a lot of complex paperwork. A knowledgeable disability lawyer will make sure all necessary documents are accurately completed and submitted in a timely manner.

  • Effective communication: Disability lawyers know how to work with the SSA. They understand how to present cases clearly and effectively, ensuring your application is understood and processed correctly.

  • Advocacy for your rights: A skilled disability lawyer will advocate on your behalf throughout the application and appeals process, ensuring you are treated justly under the law.


How much does a disability lawyer cost in Washington?

Disability lawyers operate on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if you win. Here’s how it works:

  • Consultation and agreement: You will start with a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. If you decide to proceed, you'll enter into a contingency fee agreement. This agreement must be approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to ensure fairness and legality.

  • Fee structure: The standard fee for disability lawyers is 25% of your first back pay paycheck. Back pay refers to the benefits owed to you from when you were eligible to when you actually begin receiving payments. Due to the current delays in the SSA processing times, the first check may not include all the back pay. The maximum amount a lawyer can receive is capped at $7,200, regardless of the total back pay amount.

  • Exceptions and considerations: While a good disability lawyer will not charge upfront fees, some might require fees for specific services like obtaining medical records; others may impose a retainer. Be cautious and ensure you understand all terms laid out in the contingency fee agreement.

If your case is escalated to federal appeals, the fee structure might change, and the 25% cap could be exceeded. However, most disability claims are settled before reaching this stage.


How to apply for benefits in Washington

There are several ways to apply for disability benefits in Washington.

  • Online: Visit the SSA website at SSA.gov to get started with your application.

  • Phone: You can also apply over the phone by calling the SSA's toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. 

  • In-person: If you prefer face-to-face help, you can visit your local Social Security office to apply.


Get help applying for benefits in Washington

The disability benefits application process in Washington doesn't have to be overwhelming. Take our 2-minute quiz to help determine your eligibility for disability benefits. A member of our team will reach out to provide guidance based on your specific circumstances.

We can connect you with experienced disability lawyers who specialize in securing the benefits you need. There are no upfront costs to working with us. You will only pay a one-time fee to your lawyer if they win your case.

Frequently asked questions about benefits in Washington

How do I qualify for disability in Washington?

To qualify for disability you need to have a condition that prevents you from working for at least a year. You’ll also need to meet certain work history requirements (for SSDI) or be within certain income limits (for SSI). For more on these requirements, read our full write up here.

What conditions qualify for disability in Washington?

Any condition that will prevent you from working for a year or more can qualify for disability benefits. Some of the most common conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, mental disorders, nervous system diseases, and circulatory system diseases. See our full list of conditions that qualify here.

How long does it take to get approved for disability in Washington?

It takes an average of 6.1 months to get an initial disability decision in Washington. Most people who apply are initially rejected, and need to appeal this decision. If you appeal and go to a hearing, the process takes around two years on average. Read more: How Long It Takes to Get Approved for Disability Benefits

How much does disability pay in Washington?

The average SSDI payment in Washington is $1,371.51 per month. The average SSI payment is $638.93 per month. What you’ll earn is dependent on your income, or the amount you’ve historically paid into the Social Security program. Read more on what amount you can expect.

How should I prepare my disability application in Washington?

Answer the application questions truthfully, consistently, and succinctly. You should also ensure that you gather and submit all your medical records with your application. The SSA paperwork can be complicated, so our legal team has written a full guide to the application here.

Does Washington have a state disability program?

No, Washington doesn't have a state disability program. Only five states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have a state program. Residents of Washington can apply for federal disability programs (SSDI and SSI). Read more about SSDI and SSI here.

Related resources:

Washington Disability Benefits

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By Jackie Jakab

SSA Offices in Washington

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By Jackie Jakab

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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