Disability, Online Services

Disability Benefits: The Numbers Tell the Story

September 8, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: September 8, 2015

A young woman uses the computer.Social Security provides an economic lifeline to America’s workers through our benefit programs. We run the largest disability program in the nation. We want to make sure that everyone has a clear picture of the disability insurance program and of the people living with severe disabilities, who receive its benefits.

Because the Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability, our beneficiaries are among the most severely disabled people in the country. We provide modest benefit payments to workers who contributed into the Social Security trust fund before becoming disabled. The average disability beneficiary today paid into the disability trust fund for 22 years before becoming entitled to Social Security disability benefits.

When disability happens, Social Security provides support for insured workers and their families. For many disabled Americans, this earned benefit is the only thing standing between them and poverty.

To create awareness about the positive economic impact of our disability program, Social Security is releasing two new online data resources — our new state disability fact sheets and our national disability issue paper. These two online resources show how Social Security continues to fulfill our intergenerational promise of support to America’s workers and their families.

The state disability fact sheets include information by state and congressional district about disabled workers, children of insured workers, and spouses of insured workers who are receiving disability benefits. They also show the average annual disability benefit in relation to the poverty threshold, as well as more specific data about the recipients in those areas.

The national disability issue paper describes the fundamental principles of our disability program, its economic impact, and how it continues to live up to its founding ideals.

We invite you to go to our website and try these useful new resources.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Alicia N.

    My brother was stopped for DWI. He is getting SS benefits. will this affect what he is getting now? I am paying his phone, food and other necessities for him in the jail with this money.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Alicia, our Frequently Asked Questions web page provides information on this topic. To report information, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks!

  2. richard p.

    can you tell me about the $2000 spend down to have medi-cal help with the cost of a long term facility

  3. Juliette P.

    What i don’t realize is in truth how you’re now not really much more smartly-liked than you might be right now. You are so intelligent. You realize thus considerably when it comes to this topic, made me in my opinion believe it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved until it’s one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs great. At all times care for it up!

  4. Lance

    This is all good and dandy propaganda. SSA barely allows a person to live without basic needs with their rules. In fact if a SSI recipient receives some help in making shortfalls in living expenses that the SSA wont step up to, they reduce his payments for the help he received in making ends meet.

    My money controlled by self serving congress who inturn uses this fund as their private piggy bank and leaving starving needy recipients on the street.

    Shame shame shame

  5. Dee O.

    I receive $1,000 a month SSD. How much can I earn per month if I work a part time job, without losing my Disability pay.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your question Dee. Social Security strongly supports those individuals who want to return to the work force while supplementing their disability benefit income. We have Work Incentives that allow people to work and still receive their benefits. A person may still be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they work. However, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount. This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. In 2018, the SGA limit is $1180 per month (or $1,970 for blind individuals).
      In addition to the amount of money you make, Social Security may also look at the number of hours you’re able to work. Read our publication “Working WhileDisabled: How We Can Help” for more information. Thanks!

  6. Shawna

    My daughters sons father just had a head on collision & was pronounced dead on scene.. is there any way the baby can get survival benefits if the Dad is not on the biirth citiricut & baby don’t have last name as son?

    • Ray F.

      We are very sorry to hear of your loss, Shawna. See “Information You Need To Apply for Child’s Benefits“. You cannot report a death or apply for survivors benefits online. However, we should be notified as soon as possible when a person dies. Visit our Benefits Planner for Survivors, for more information.
      Your daughter can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to one of our agents for further guidance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. She may experience a shorter wait time if she calls later during the day or later in the week. Or she can contact her local Social Security office directly. Thanks.

  7. Leon s.

    My worth less name is Leon Spearry Medicare number mebk6tpn I have bad disc in neck number 4567 all are I have come to the conclusion etna and Medicare do not care and all we are is a number really sad throwing people that have worked their hole life for nothing I am tired and given up it is what it is.

  8. Mike R.

    California Lifeline Program personal are asking for proof of SSI. I don’t know about this. I’m worried that SSA will me tell to chat with San Diego Regional Center. Which is a really a major hassle.

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