Social Security Disability Secures Today and Tomorrow

September 29, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

ssdi60“I have never asked for help, but man did I need it now.” This is the case for many people living with disabling conditions that prevent them from working. At Social Security, we see and hear these stories every day.

We provide benefits to millions of people with disabilities and their families through the Social Security Disability Insurance program. This earned benefit program provides a vital lifeline for those who can no longer work because of an oftentimes unexpected critical illness. Disability can be unpredictable and can change anyone’s life at any time.

This year, our disability program turned 60 years old. There have been changes over the years, especially in medicine and technology, but one thing remains the same: our core philosophy of securing today and tomorrow for workers and their families.

In honor of the 60th anniversary of the program, we’ve featured blogs focusing on disability since the beginning of August, when the program officially turned 60. Acting Commissioner Colvin kicked off the blog series and Judy Chesser, Deputy Commissioner for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, detailed the legislative history of the disability program.  We will continue to feature blogs about the program over the next few months.

We invite you to visit our Faces and Facts of Disability page to learn more about our disability beneficiaries through personal stories and videos. You can also get links to our publications and statistics and learn disability facts.

Currently, we feature Jon’s story. Jon lives with a rare neurological disability called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. A condition so severe, it doesn’t allow him to work, easily digest food, or even go for a leisurely stroll in the park. Jon expresses his gratitude for Social Security and describes what his life is like. Read Jon’s story, as well as many others, by visiting Faces and Facts of Disability.

Did you find this Information helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: , ,

See Comments

About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. James S.

    My friend is on SS Disability. He doesn’t get enough to totally cover his bills once they take out medicare premium and pays for Part D premium. If he works 1-2 days a week, what is the limit he can earn before it affects his SSDI?

    • Vonda

      Hi James, 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 2021, any month in which earnings exceed $940 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 2021, you are earning SGA if your earnings, after any allowable deductions, are more than $1,310 in a month.

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

  2. Lenora P.

    hello I’m a payee and i didn’t receive the person check today just trying to fine out if there was some kind of hold up .Thank you

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Lenora. If the individual did not receive their electronic payment on the scheduled pay date, please contact their bank or financial institution first. If you still need to report a late, missing, or stolen Social Security payment, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions. Thanks!

  3. Wanda K.

    My friends husband died from a heart attack at 53. She has no income. Are there any benefits for her? She is grieving unconsolably and found out that she will not even get SS benefits at 62 because they were only married for 9 years when he died. Is there any death benefits for her.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Wanda, thanks for using our blog. We are very sorry to hear about your friend’s loss. Generally, a surviving spouse or widow meets the duration of marriage requirement if the marriage took place no later than 9 months immediately preceding the day on which the worker died. If divorced, they must be married for 10 years prior to the divorce. To learn more , visit our Survivors Planner: Survivors Benefits For Your Widow Or Widower.

  4. Moises L.

    I am paying child support on my son, he will be 18 next year in 2021, will I receive the money that I am paying for child support on my monthly check?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Moises, thank you for your question. Please visit the IRS Economic Impact Payments Information Center to answer your questions about eligibility, payment amounts, what to expect, when to expect it and more. Hope this helps!

  5. gwyn a.

    For several years I was receiving ssi for several issues now I’ve been diagnosed with end stage renal failure,
    So my now my life is pretty much Dialysis and my sons I have 4 kids 2 still at home and rather young (12 & 13) and I can’t seem to get any help at all on top of everything else I have mobility issues moving around is very painful I can’t even make it out of my driveway I asked my Dr about getting a script to help me get a scooter or something to help me I want to be able to walk to a park with my boys but was basically laughed at, but someone suggested ssdi what is that??

  6. gwendolyn r.

    Traumatic brain injury since 5/04/20. Unable to work due to being a fall risk, inability to retain short term memory, medicated and in pain all day EVERYDAY, need 24/7 care. Seizure prone. One side of body doesn’t function consistently. Severe depression, anxiety, headaches, exhaustion 24/7 although unable to sleep more than 3-4 hours at a time.
    It’s been an entire year since my first request and still don’t have an answer on my SECOND request. EEGS have shown seizures in december. Waiting on response in regards to last EEG in March.

  7. Dennis D.

    I received Social Security disability payments for a few years before I reached retirement age and my payments were converted to regular Social Security payments. I do not receive enough money to make ends meet.
    Can I go to work to earn a little extra money or will I be penalized if I do so since I received Social Security disability payments prior to reaching retirement age? I will be 68 years old in April 2020. Please advise asap.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Dennis. Thanks for your question. When you reach full retirement age, your earnings no longer reduce your benefits, no matter how much you earn. For more information, visit our Getting Benefits While Working web page. We hope this helps.

  8. Cindy C.

    I’ve been receiving SSA benefits for over one year, starting when I was just over 66. I have had severe spinal problems for a long time but the last 6-8 months the pain has made it very painful and difficult to work. I’ve tried injections, therapy, etc., but no relief. My MD (an orthopedic surgeon) is giving me the option of a huge operation which would include lumbar fusion. That requires a lengthy recovery and it is not know for sure if the surgery will be a success or if I will able to work afterward. I work part-time now, but it’s increasingly difficult and I drive over 3 hours each way weekly to get to work which is very hard on my back as well, staying at a relative’s home for a couple of nights while scheduled to work. My family MD told me I can apply for disability, perhaps through the state (CA). Can a person receive SSA benefits AND SSI or some other disability benefits concurrently?

    • Vonda V.

      Cindy, thank you for using our blog to ask your question. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time.

      Supplemental Security Income (SSI) gives cash assistance to people with limited income and resources who are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. To find out who qualifies and how to apply, go to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits web page.

      You can inquire about social services from the state in which you live. These services include 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. Thanks.

  9. Ashley W.

    My husband became disabled in 2016 he was first approved for ssi and then they said he could be eligible for ssdi due to his work history well we went ahead and went with the ssdi due to it being more money well what they didnt inform us of is they can take child support out of ssdi so we started out thinking we would be ok on my income and his check to having to move out of our apt and live in a camper cuz after child support it left us with 298.00 a month .how would they ever expect someone to live of 298.00 a month? And what they are taking is back support! Ok so my questions are? If he has minor children he provides for how is he supposed to care for the child in the home? What is the % they can take out of his check? Also is it possible to switch back to ssi like he was getting in the beginning so we have money to pay our bills?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Ashley, thank you for your questions. We can withhold Social Security benefits to enforce your husband’s legal obligation to pay child support, alimony or restitution. State laws determine a valid garnishment order. By law, we garnish current and continuing monthly benefits. We do not make retroactive adjustments. Your husband cannot appeal to Social Security for implementing garnishment orders. If he disagrees with the garnishment, he should contact an attorney or representative where the court issued the order.

      Your husband must file for Social Security disability benefits because the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a needs-based program that pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. When someone is receiving SSI, they are required to file for all other benefits that they are eligible for.

      • Benjamin H.

        That is a lie about filing for other benefits cause Social Security signs you up for Social Security retirement so you can’t get no other benefits. I know for a fact cause they did that to me.

  10. charles l.

    welll idk about mine i have been 4 years says a medical decison has been mad an your deciosn is being processed idk have no ideal what thyats means

    • Vonda V.

      Thank you for contacting us, Charles. Unfortunately, and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog and cannot assist you.

      To inquire about your disability decision status, please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

      • barbara m.

        I’ve been on social security disability for ten years now… I worked hard my whole life,,,,as I climbed the ladder of my job and was making good money until the day I was injured on the job .. now what I make iñ one month on SSDI I use to make iñ a week my way of living had changed drastically and dramatically..I was wondering does your SSDI ever get increased,,,as I said before I’m still making the same ad I did ten years ago ,, will there ever be an increase iny SSDI

        • Valerie G.

          Does your SSDI amount change when you become 65?

          • Vonda V.

            Hi Valerie, thanks for using our blog. Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time.

Comments are closed.