If You Have a Disability, Social Security Can Help

October 8, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: October 8, 2015

Father and two daughters October is Disability Awareness Month. For Social Security, disability is always at the forefront of our conversations. We hear stories daily about Americans living with disabling conditions who need help from the system they contributed to during their working life. Their stories make us proud of the work we do.

Through our Faces and Facts of Disability website, we share the stories about what it means to receive disability benefits from Social Security. The site highlights some of the people who benefit from our programs. We believe that learning the facts and hearing peoples’ stories about disability allows for a better understanding of what’s perhaps the most misunderstood Social Security program.

The Social Security Act sets a very strict definition of disability. Social Security pays benefits to insured people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. The impairment must be so severe that it renders the person unable to perform not only his or her previous work, but also any other substantial work.

Social Security doesn’t provide temporary or partial disability benefits. Because the eligibility requirements are so strict, our disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired people in the country. Our new online resources, the state disability fact sheets and our national disability issue paper, provide specific information about our recipients’ demographics by state and congressional district. These resources are proof of Social Security’s economic impact and benefit to our most vulnerable citizens.

Disability is something we don’t like to think about, or we may think it can’t happen to us. But the odds of becoming disabled are greater than we realize. The Social Security disability program excels in providing services to people when they need it the most.

For us, disability has faces and names — among them Larry, Kiera, Ebbie, Charlotte, Jamie, and Christine. We want to invite you to come see their faces, and learn the facts. They are truly at the heart of what we do.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Deann P.

    My brother is 57 yrs old with some serious health conditions such as A-Fib, has only 30% use of his heart, 3rd stage kidney failure, high blood pressure and renal disease just to name a few of his health condition. He has been denied social security supplemental insurance and social security disability benefits a few times already including denial on his appeal that an attorney filed on his behalf. He can’t even get Medicaid. Why? He has worked all his life and has paid in his share to social security, but yet his government has failed him. What’s even more upsetting is that he has mental disabilities that hinders his ability to read or write well enough to understand and/or communicate to get the support and help he so desperately needs. Why isn’t someone or programs the is geared to helping these illiterate/mentally disabled adults understand and communicate with government agencies and other institutions? I’ll tell you what it is, IT’ SAD THAT THEY FALL THRU THE CRACKS WITHOUT BEING NOTICED!

    • Vonda

      Deann, we are sorry to hear about your brother’s disability. If he was recently denied, he may file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the decision. Your brother can provide additional evidence when he files his appeal.

      If he needs help requesting a review, he can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or contact his local Social Security office. 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.

      Some individuals may be eligible to receive additional assistance from the state where they live; while they wait for a final determination on their disability claim. These services include Medicaid, free meals, housekeeping help, transportation or help with other problems. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web page for more information. We hope this information is helpful!

  2. Becky D.

    My mom ALS started out with a foot drop on her left foot. From there her left leg lost all muscle tone and all the entire left leg muscles were almost gone. Also her fingers and thumbs “contract” at times. Left arm is losing muscle tone too,she have been suffering from amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS) disease for the last seven years and had constant pain which really get us worried, especially in her knees, the only treatment for this ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is natural organic treatments honestly ,Multivitamin Herbal Care has the perfect herbal remedy to Motor Neuron Disease including,getting into bed was also another thing she finds impossible. We had to find a better solution for her condition which has really helped her a lot,The biggest help we had was multivitamincare orgThey walked us through the proper steps, I highly recommend these herbs to anyone suffering from ALS.

  3. Angeles F.

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  4. Luciano

    A person must have previously worked and contributed in order to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Thanks in advance.

    • Vonda

      Hi Luciano, thanks for using our blog. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSI is a needs-based program that provides cash assistance to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. Also, SSI benefits are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities, who meet the financial limits.

      When it comes to qualifying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI program, individuals must have worked long enough–and recently enough–under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which you have to earn within the last 10 years before you become disabled. Check out our Disability web page for more details. We hope this is helpful.

      • Billy N.

        My Wife and I are both disable to work. We get together $1,200 each month. We are on the list of having to give up our home after 25 yrs. We have no way to make more income.
        We have been told that there are no other place we can go to get help. I pastored 55 yrs. Evangelist for 13 yrs. I never got enough money to save .

        What can I do?

        • Vonda

          Hi Billy, thanks for using our blog. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) gives cash assistance to people with limited income and resources who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. Children with disabilities can get SSI, too. To find out who qualifies and how to apply, go to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits web page.

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