Celebrating Sixty Years of Social Security Disability Insurance

August 1, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

60th disabilityWhen 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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About the Author

Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security

Acting Commissioner of Social Security (February 14, 2013 - January 20, 2017)


  1. Anthony J.

    May 13, 2004 The Boeing Company Ordered Exempt Employee Bemsid m261425 into 26 week Product offered by Aetna Insurance Company (314)232-0232.

    At 27 weeks, Social Security Administration Issued United States Treasury Check Made-Out-To The Boeing Company Exempt Employee m280751 Retired and was Presented to Human Resource Officers of The Boeing Company.

    Complaint: The Boeing Company Refused to Inform The Aetna Insurance Company $23,000 U.S. Treasury Check Made-Out-To Exempt Employee The Boeing Company Was Receaved and Deposited.

    Exempt Employee of The Boeing Company m261425/m280751 Retired Drew $1.5million in Payroll Recorded As Registered Movements of Payroll Dollar.

    Please intervene on behalf of The Aetna Insurance Company.

  2. MARINA Y.



    • Vonda V.

      For your security, Marina, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  3. bonnie l.

    hello, my name is bonnie lynn hanover, I would like to know how offten does ssi reivew cases for renew. I got an appeala court judgement and they suspended my benifits after ssi paid the judgement and I have never recieved my monthly bebefits. does ss1 superceed a judgement order. I am being lied too , no one will give me a straight answer. thank you,

  4. Jacki T.

    I am 62 come Jan. 9th, 2020. I am receiving SSDI & have been since 2009. My question is do I apply for my Social security now or does it not.matter?
    Thank you.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Jacki. When you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the benefit amount remains the same. Hope this helps.

  5. Michael J.

    My husband and I are both on disability.. I’m 59.. he’s 41.. At age 66 I know my SSDI rolls over to my SSI RETIREMENT..

    Being married.. with him being on SSDI and at 66 I will be then on SSI RETIREMENT.. will our amount of monies still remain the same?

    I know many of my elderly friends who get into a new relationship.. do NOT get married to prevent a cut in pay… IS this what happens?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Michael. For someone already receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, we will automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits when they reach their full retirement age. The benefit amount remains the same. Thanks!

  6. Smith M.

    It would be great to peak into the leading insurance agency in pennsylvania run by Alchemy Insurance Agency provides free insurance quotes in life insurance, auto insurance, commercial insurance, farm insurance & etc.

  7. 1501 1.

    i have been jobless for 5 years the city of bakersfield ca
    blocked my dmv e 1166780 using oreillys auto parts corporation entrapment files 1612494 b 7 alot of hispanic woman hate my guts bcv 15 101705 used my information
    property rights used as a default by the city and denying all hearing i went bankrupt how no one understands how you guys block my employment disqualify my opinion and demand respect for your hispanic business 1612494 b 7

  8. Louise P.

    I would like to sign up for SSDI, I was at my SOIAL SECURTY OFFICE four years ago getting stuff done for my late husbnd’s burial. The lady said that I could start receiving benifets now. I was wondering if I still can?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Louise. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. Generally, you will have a shorter wait if you call later in the day. You can also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  9. Larry P.

    What is the minimum of work credits can I have and still qualify for ssi?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Larry. Thanks for your question. It sounds like you are referring to credits for Social Security benefits. Generally, you will need to have 40 credits, or 10 years of work paying Social Security taxes, to qualify for any type of Social Security benefit. In addition, to qualify for disability benefits, you generally need to have worked for five out of the last 10 years before you became disabled. The rules are different for younger workers who become disabled or die. For a complete explanation of credits needed for the different types of benefits, check out our Benefits Planner: Social Security Credits web page. We hope this helps.


    how I can ssda insurance

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