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. Kathy F.

    Ive been having problems with my password for 5 years.I gave up on even trying to get in online.

  2. Tamara R.

    I have been waiting on a Determination on my case since December 2019. Everytime I call I get hung up on. I have been told my case is in Determination. I call that office and I get no reply. I am legally blind and rapidly loosing my sight. All medical records gave been done for all my conditions. I take 10 pills and 2 types of insulin a day. I can’t afford rent let alone medical supplies.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Tamara, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. You can log in to or create a my Social Security account to check the status of your application online.

      If you are unable to check your status online, we recommend you continue to work with 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.

      • Kathy F.

        Good Luck with that.I’ve been hung up on so many times I can’t count.They really need to hire more people and then actually TRAIN them to do the job we are paying them to do…Hold on,I need to transfer you.CLICK!!!!

      • Kathy F.

        Good Luck with that!

  3. Gail B.

    Please help I been having trouble logging into my account online with my social security and I put in for a reset password through SSA first time online but when I received the letter with the reset temporary password it doesn’t work every time I enter the reset password given to me through an Official letter coming from SSA THERE IS A PROBLEM now today May 2,2020 I receive another Temporary password from SSA OFFICE AGAIN the same thing but a different day they are hanging up in my face after I have waited long period of time to speak to someone and then they start hanging up as soon as I put my SSN# in I had to call from another number and with no problems getting to speak to someone and not even a 45 minutes to a little over a hour waiting to speak to someone I don’t know what all this is about but I need someone FROM: SSA OFFICIAL OFFICE TO Email me with some help on this and the Coronavirus has nothing to do with this because I was receiving this type of behavior from the SSA OFFICE BEFORE COVID19 had come about me and my husband had visited the SSA OFFICE EARLIER THIS YEAR!

    • Kathy F.

      Ive been having problems with my password for 5 years.I gave up on even trying to get in online.

  4. Bravo T.

    I’m 60 1/2 applied for Disability in August of last year. I’m not in my 9th month with no word. I’ve had numberous surgerys last one 4 weeks ago on my back… Wont get into details but my medical records show I have major issues why does it take so long. Now I received a letter stating everything is on hold due to virus. Anyone else have these issues. I’d like to know what the average months are in being approved or denied?? Please…

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Bravo. The length of time it takes to process a claim can vary from state to state. We attempt to resolve all claims promptly, but there may be delays due to the volume of cases in your area. 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.

      To follow up on the status of your disability application, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 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.

      • Kathy F.

        I’ve been waiting for my last backpay installment of $14,000 for 5 years now.My last visit to the local office 3 or 4 people were called to the window to review my acct.I was then told it had to be handled at the payment center because they didn;t have the “tools” to handle it here in Bakersfield,Ca…..I was told my acct needed to be audited from the beginning.I’ve tried phone calls and letters.I was told i was still owed $14,000 by 7 different people and then that I’ve been paid.I found a letter saying they deducted over $16,000 from my backpay because i was overpaid SSI when I NEVER Got Ssi until after my case settled and then i got one payment of maybe $2,000. Thats the “SMOKING GUN” right there.Im not sure of the exact amounts but it seems to even out….So whats the problem?I’ve found at least one mistake for them and still nothing..I just cant let this go and am in the process of reaching out to my Senator and Congressman because its just not right.They expect me to just give up and I can’t do that.Somethings not right and I can prove I am still owed lots of money.Well,its alot of money to me anyway….that money has to be accounted for somewhere and if this has happened to me it probably has happened to others.Wheres the money going?Someones pockets at the payment center? I have paperwork that states what i recieved and what I should have received so I don’t understand where the disconnect in communications is….I don’t care if it takes another 5 years, everyone will keep hearing from me until someone does something.Just to let you know,I still want my money and I’m not stupid.Thank you

    • Bravo

      Denied after 1 year now my attorneys will start to earn their money !!!

  5. Chip T.

    I just wanted to say that Disability s certainly not a handout ! I was a GM for major car dealerships for 30 years and my average annual salary during that time was $456,000.00 ! I paid over $100,000.00 a year in all kinds of taxes and programs ! So what I a getting back in Disability is nowhere near what I put into the plan ! This program just like the IRS was only supposed to be temporary yet the government found it was too great a way to get money in for them to spend ! If I had just been allowed to keep more of my income I could have invested it as I did my other monies and prepared for a much better situation for myself when I could no longer work 16 hour days or even 2 hours a day ! Because of the money I made , I worked much longer than my doctors wanted me to do but it’s hard to walk away from that kind of income even with the government taking 40% of it ! Believe me !!

  6. DONALD A.

    People are being asked to sign up on My Social Security page to access info etc.Is there any possibility with the offices closed and phone lines jammed, that the message center online could be available both ways? Currently there is no option to leave a message only receive
    Thank You

  7. Stanford M.

    I became disabled in 2018 can i recieve medicare.Or medicade

  8. Tim

    I collect disability because I lost a limb in an accident where the person at fault had no vehicle insurance.When I turn retirement age will my disability be lowered for social security benefits.

  9. Jim W.

    I read an article today in the Houston Chronicle that Social Security Administration is accepting comments on SSDI and SSI proposed benefit changes proposed by the Trump administration. Where do I comment on these proposed changes? Specifically, the Trump administration intends on making it much more difficult for folks on disability to stay on disability by creating a 2 year review process — every 2 years. If you do not comply with 2 year review process you lose your benefits. There is no need for such a review process and nor are there any factual studies to suggest yet another review process. Many believe this is another attempt by Trump administration to curtail and eventually eliminate Social Security. Where are the level headed common decency republicans? All I hear from GOP is smash and destroy social security. I am very angry. Yes I am on SSDI and I waited 5 plus years before I applied before I could work no longer. I am over 60. I have a Master degree and was Director of IT of a major organization with over 5000 employees. I earned my benefits. I just had another back surgery that is not working so well – 4th surgery. I have had 2 surgeries on my neck. I am on continuous pain meds; and now I have to potentially fight a review process every two years that is an attempt to throw me off my SSDI. I AM ANGRY!

    • Kathy

      VoteBLUE 2020

  10. Ellie

    I’m going to be 65 in two days.
    Does my social security disability income status automatically turn into regular social security at 65?
    Seems I was told that once, but can’t remember.
    I need to find a part time job that will accept a disabled person as I am very financially strapped.
    Thank you.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Ellie. When you reach full retirement age, we will automatically convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the benefit amount remains the same. Therefore, you don’t have to do anything. When you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. Learn more information about working while disablbed by reading our publication, “Working while Disabled- How We Can Help.” We hope this helps.

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