If You Have a Disability, Social Security Can Help

October 8, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

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. Aghanya T.

    Great initiative done by socialsecurity.gov – Appreciated, keep it up. People can help or encourage them to lead a better life.

  2. Thakki

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  4. Jhon P.

    I liked this article, a disability does not mean that we are limited as human beings, we can make a normal and dignified life, we can study, be professionals and form a nice family.

  5. Lynn C.

    Can someone apply if they have bi-polar and where do I find that information?
    Thank You

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Lynn. We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually within the last 10 years). The (SSI) program is a needs based program that gives cash assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. We pay disability benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use our online application.

      Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
      • You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment.
      • You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer; and
      • You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.

      For more information, visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability. Thanks!

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