In order to calculate your monthly disability benefit, the Social Security Administration uses your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings or AIME. The AIME is calculated by using your highest indexed earnings during 35 working years, adding them together and then dividing them by the total number of months for those years. This average is rounded down to determine your AIME.
If you want to see an example of how the SSA calculates an AIME go to the SSA website.
The SSA uses the AIME to determine your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), which is the base amount of your benefits, and typically, the amount of your monthly benefit. Three fixed percentages of your AIME are used to determine your PIA. The dollar amounts that result from the calculation are called “bend points.” Bend points are changed on a yearly basis to reflect the national average wage index.The PIA for a disabled individual who became eligible for SSD in 2017 is the sum of the following:
- 90% of the first $885 of average indexed monthly earnings
- 32% of the average indexed monthly earnings over $885 through $5,336, and
- 15% of the average indexed monthly earnings over $5,336.