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. Tracy R.

    I need another Social Security Disability Update Report sent out to me because the one I received on 2/12/18 had gotten damaged.

    Thank you
    Tracy Rogers
    SS# *** – ** – ***
    Phone# 330-801-6556
    3376 Prange Dr. Apt. 11
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44223

  2. Cori

    I need more money my dis check doesn’t pay enough there any other pro teams I can access?

  3. Vicki K.

    My left eye was hit with a base ball (hard) at the age of 10 and now I’m 66 with difficulty in seeing and need this cloud taken off eye because I’m blind in that eye. I’m scheduled for another eye appointment on Jan 23rd and need approval of benefits for appointment and for a lazier surgery I was informed I need. Thank you for your reply, Vicki

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Vicki. We are sorry to hear about your condition. The Social Security Administration does not pay for medical or approve medical treatment. For information about what Medicare covers, please visit Medicare‘s website at http://medicare.gov/, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048). We hope this helps!

  4. Janice t.

    If you receive SSDI. How long do you have to wait to try working seasonal, 10 hours a week for 2 months. I was told 3 different things from agents that work for ssa. One agent said you have to wait a year. If not a year, you would lose your benefits and have to pay back all the money received. Another agent said there is no waiting period. They explained to me about the 9 month program and ticket to work program. I have researched online, I can’t find the correct answer. Can someone explain to me the correct answer. I am confused at this point. The field agent was very rude. Also he asked if I received my information from the 800 number. I said yes, he said they don’t know anything. If they don’t know how anything, why are we directed to call them. Thanks for letting me comment.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Janice. Thank you for your question. Social Security has special rules that make it possible for people with disabilities receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to work and still receive monthly payments. These are called work incentives.

      For SSDI beneficiaries, there is a Trial Work Period (TWP) and then an Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE). The TWP allows you to test your ability to work for at least 9 months. During this period, you will receive your full disability benefit regardless of how much you earn as long as your work activity is reported and you continue to have a disabling impairment. In 2019, any month in which earnings exceed $880 is considered a month of the 9-month trial work period.

      Once you’ve completed your TWP, you get a 36-month safety net called the EPE. During the EPE, you get benefits for all months your earnings or work activities are below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as long as you continue to have a disabling impairment. Social Security will suspend cash benefits for months earnings are over SGA and start benefits again if earnings fall below the SGA level. In 2019, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,220 in a month.

      Check out Social Security’s Red Book for descriptions of the many work incentives.

  5. Deann

    I was a stay at home mother for 13 years, 1989-2001. I didn’t work outside the home, so no personal income. My husband divorced me. I became disabled. I lost 13 years of work income. Therefore, my disability income was very low. Does SSI have any plan for mother’s who choose to stay home to care for their children? I think I should be able to include my ex-husband’s taxed income for those years.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Deann: Social Security has benefits for divorced spouses.

      If you are divorced and unmarried, you may be able to receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. See our Retirement Planner: If You’re Divorced for other eligibility requirements and more detailed information.

      If you are the divorced spouse of a worker who died and you are not married, you could get benefits just the same as a widow or widower. For more information, please visit our Surviving Divorced Spouse web page.

  6. Peggy R.

    My husband is covered on my insurance and always has been. He does not need the medicare coverage and was not aware of the deduction that is being taken out of his check please contact us on how to stop the deductions and refund past with drawss

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Peggy, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits are automatically enrolled in Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) and Medical Insurance (Part B) after 24 months of eligibility. However, a beneficiary may refuse Medicare Part B if that beneficiary or the spouse, actively works and has coverage under a group health plan, based on that employment. If that’s the case, he or she doesn’t need Medicare part B until the work activity ends or that health care coverage is dropped, whichever comes first. We always suggest that individuals speak to their personnel office, health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future.

      Please contact your local Social Security office for further assistance or call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

  7. Elizabeth

    Social Security Disability or SSD is the money you paid in when you were working.

    SSI is money that comes from the state for people that did not work or made very little money.

    SSD is our money. no one else’s. SSI is our money also helping the poor.

    I’m sick of people calling SSD entitlements when they are NOT.
    SSI is an entitlement.

  8. Sara M.

    My daughter just received a letter from Social Security that she will be receiving disability checks starting in February 2018. She will receive her first check in November. She passed away May 20, 2018. Will she receive the 3 checks and do I need to mail the original death certificate . Susan Linda Manous-8-12-1965 DOB and SS # *** – ** – *** address 7445 Union Hill RD, Canton, GA 30115. I am her representative.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry for your loss, Sara. You will need to contact the local Social Security in your area and speak to one of our agents. In the case your daughter was awarded benefits under the “regular” disability program (SSDI), you may be required to complete Form SSA-1724 (Claim for Amounts Due in the Case of a Deceased Beneficiary). Please bring with you the letter and the death certificate.
      If unable to visit the local office, please call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
      Just a reminder – We do not have access to personal information in this venue. Please be cautious about posting personal information on social media channels. Thanks.

  9. Phyllis. L.

    I have moved and here is my new address. My old address was 4111 Azalea Dr Morehead City, N C. New address is 500 Bogue Loop Rd. Newport,N.C. 28570. Phyllis Langley

    • Ray F.

      Hello Phyllis. We do not have access to personal information in this venue, therefore, we cannot update information on your record. If you get Social Security benefits or are enrolled in Medicare, you can change your address online by using a my Social Security account.
      Just a reminder – Please be cautious about posting personal information on social media channels. Thanks!

  10. Brenda C.

    I live in the e state of SC, I have to have the deed to my house changed. Out of my husband name
    Mine, even tho we had it refinance two times & I signed the papers when we bought the originally. The courthouse said I had to go threw probate to have it changed. I talked to a lady at the courthouse who said I could call SS & get disability so my taxes w wouldn’t be as high. I have a disability car tag. I have diabetes,HBP, knee replacement,shoulder& hand Surgery. I
    Retired at 62 because I could no longer do the job because of my diabetes. I draw survivor benefits from my husband, but I called SS & they said I could not.
    I wasn’t calling about more money just where I could get my taxes
    Lower. Who is right?

Comments are closed.