Celebrating Sixty Years of Social Security Disability Insurance
Last Updated: August 19, 2021
When President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, he saw it as an innovative way to provide economic security for American workers. His advisers also envisioned disability insurance as part of the program, but it was 20 years later when it became a reality.
Today we celebrate this important milestone: 60 years ago, the Social Security Amendments of 1956 established disability insurance as part of Social Security. In the years since then, the disability program has adapted to keep pace with our changing world. For 60 years, Social Security has protected workers and their families in the event of a severe disability.
The disability program provides a critical lifeline to workers and families who lose their income due to the onset of severe, long-term disabilities. Today, about nine million disabled workers and two million of their dependents receive disability benefits from Social Security. Visit our Faces and Facts of Disability page to learn more. Here you can also watch engaging videos and read personal stories from people who rely on this earned benefit.
Social Security is our nation’s most effective poverty prevention program, and disability insurance is a key piece of that. Although the benefits are modest (less than $1,200 per month on average), these payments are the main source of income for most people who receive them. Among disabled workers, 4 out of 5 beneficiaries rely on these benefits for at least half of their income; for more than a third of beneficiaries, it is their only source of income. Social Security disability benefits lift 3 million people out of poverty each year.
To commemorate this milestone, we will host a series of articles about the Social Security disability program on our blog in the coming months. We’ll hear from beneficiaries, historians, stakeholders, and disability experts as they reflect on the program’s history and importance.
I invite you to reflect on the significance of Social Security Disability Insurance in your own life, or in the lives of your loved ones. You can join this conversation by adding your comments below.
We celebrate a very successful first 60 years of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, and look forward to the next 60 and beyond as it continues to protect workers and their families. Whether at birth or in old age, upon the death of a loved one, or in case of disability, Social Security is with you through life’s journey!
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