Keeping our Disability Programs Updated

December 15, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

elderly woman on computerAs we continue to reflect on the 60th anniversary of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) this year, it’s worth noting some of the ways the program has evolved over time. A lot has changed since DI started in 1956! We continuously work to ensure our programs keep pace with rapid changes in medical care, healthcare delivery models, assistive technology, and workplace requirements.

  • Medical care: Our disability programs have strict eligibility criteria, and beneficiaries must have severe impairments. For many of the most severe impairments, we rely on comprehensive listings of disabling conditions to make our disability decisions. We update the listings periodically to keep pace with advancements in medical care and assistive technologies. This year, we published comprehensive updates to the medical listings for respiratory, neurological, and mental disorders.
  • Technology: Medical records are essential for making our disability determinations, and each year we make nearly 15 million requests for records from healthcare providers and organizations to make medical decisions on about three million disability claims. Now, participating healthcare organizations send us medical records electronically through health information technology. With electronic records transmission, we can obtain medical records in seconds or minutes. That lets us obtain a claimant’s medical record, review it with the aid of automated decision-support, and make a determination faster than ever before. We currently can receive electronic medical records from about 7,000 healthcare facilities across the country, and are adding new providers and facilities on an ongoing basis.
  • Healthcare delivery: Because we rely heavily on medical evidence, we adjust our policies to keep up with changing healthcare delivery models. For example, we’re looking into the types of medical professionals that frequently provide care, and are considering whether telehealth – such as providing healthcare consultations remotely by video – might improve the medical evidence we can gather for certain populations.
  • Updating Vocational Information: By law, we consider an applicant to be disabled if their medical condition prevents them from doing any job in the national economy, given the applicant’s age, education, and work experience. That means we need detailed information about the physical and mental requirements of a wide range of occupations in the national economy. We work with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to update this information and keep pace with the changing world of work.

We’re proud to live up to our mission to “deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public.”

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About the Author

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy


  1. J.Lee


    I am reaching out in desperation for my neighbor here in Indianapolis, IN. He is in his mid 50s and he has an unknown disorder that is causing him to have seizures – as well as back, joint, and memory problems from the falls and concussions. He has tried and tried to get approved for disability the entire 3yrs we have been neighbors – only to repeatedly get denied.

    I have witnessed his seizures numerous times and his health seems to decline more and more after each seizure. Unfortunately, he is now in a bad financial situation because the family member that was helping him has lost income due to covid. So now he is facing homelessness because he cannot work due to this unknown disorder and because his disability continues to get denied for reasons he does not understand.

    His mental capacity seems to be diminishing by the day and I’m afraid the stress from getting denied could literally be fatal for this very kind and sweet man. Can you please provide a specific name and contact information for the/a federal employee who oversees the quality and integrity of the disability application process? As well as another federal employee who could help expedite his case?

    Thank you very much for any assistance you can offer.

    • Vonda

      Hi J. Lee. We are sorry to hear about your neighbor’s disability. If he was recently denied, he may file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the decision. He 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. Richard G.

    Vonda VanTil,

    Too many canned answers that do NOT work. The SSA website, your ‘answers’, and the lack of user friendly information are true killers.

    Whomever your website programers are – they are damn lazy! You have stated so many answers which are not found in the FAQs. Buttons that do not exist to assist customers. The worst is that the form letters that are provided have NOT been updated with the most current information.

  3. J S.

    My mother is disabled (receiving SSD). She just had a stoke and will require 24 hour care the rest of her life. She just turned 60. She was married to my father for more than 10 years. Can she get her disability to be raised by using the earnings record of my father. (My mother and father are divorced and have been so for over 20 years)

    • Vonda

      Hi there. Your mother must be at least 62 years of age and receiving retirement or disability benefits. Check out our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

  4. Kim K.

    Why can’t I find forms sent to me by Social Secirity by mail under my acct . So I van do it online

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Kim, thanks for using our blog. All Social Security forms are FREE. Check out our Forms web page for a listing; however, not all forms are listed. If you can’t find the form you need, or you need help completing a form, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office and we will help you. If you download, print and complete a paper form, please mail or take it to your local Social Security office or the office that requested it from you. We hope this is helpful!

  5. Daniel T.

    A letter from SSA : You are entitled to monthly disability benefits. The regular monthly Social Security payment is $1,735.00 beginning November 2020. We found that you became disabled under our rules on January 14, 2020. From July 2020 to October 2020, the full monthly Social Security benefit before any
    deductions was $1,735.00. You have not received any payment for last 24 months.
    What will be my back disability payment? I’m 62 years old scheduled to receive my first SS check December 23,2020. thanks for your time & patience..

    • Vonda V.

      For your security, Daniel, 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.

  6. Bethany B.

    Can a wife who is separated from her husband who received ssdi get benefits ?

  7. Dennis J.

    I worked for 40 years then was placed on ssdi I will be 69,my spouse 67,my question is if our marriage comes to a end,does my ssdi come to a end as well? She is from Peru started work in USA since 2001.

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Dennis, thanks for using our blog. If you get Social Security disability or retirement benefits and you get divorced, your benefit will stay the same. To report a divorce, 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.

  8. Barb B.

    How do I get more on my check I here you can get up to 3150 now how would I be able to get that??0

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Barb, thanks for using our blog. Monthly Social Security benefits are based on the worker’s average lifetime earnings. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit amount is based on factors such as the federal benefit rate, income and resources.

      Of course, benefits will increase annually if there’s a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not eroded by inflation. We hope this helps!

  9. Arnell C.

    They are raising minim wage so most people are making at least $10-15 an hour. How are people like me who get SSD supposed to live when I receive around $700 a month. I can’t get a job. My husband is disable too. He makes a little more than I do. Food stamps we are eligible for $10. We live in Ohio and make to much for medicaid. The state or county does pay our medicare premium but if we make $100 we lose that too. Section 8 is all used up in Franklin County and surrounding. Prices are going up but not SS. What do you do?

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