Disability, General

Supporting the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 27, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

Woman in wheelchair smiling using smartphoneSocial Security is committed to the principles and spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to improve the lives of our beneficiaries and our employees who have one or more disabilities.

You may not like to think about the possibility of becoming disabled. However, if sometime in the future you find that you’re unable to work because you have a disabling condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death, then the thought will become a reality that you need to address.

When people become disabled under the strict statutory definition Social Security must follow, Social Security helps them meet their basic needs and sustain a higher quality of life. Our disability program provides financial and medical benefits for those who qualify, to pay for doctors’ visits, medicines, and treatments. It’s important to note that twenty-year-olds have a one in four chance of needing our disability programs before they reach retirement age.

We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSDI program provides benefits to people who are disabled or blind, and who worked and contributed to the Social Security trust fund as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act. The SSI program makes cash assistance payments to people who are aged, blind, and disabled, who have limited income and resources. The SSI program is financed by general tax revenues, not the Social Security trust funds.

Our disability programs continue to be a mainstay in the lives of many people – people just like you. What makes their otherwise similar stories unique is that they live with debilitating conditions that inhibit their ability to work. Social Security disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired people in the country.

Our Faces and Facts of Disability webpage highlights the real life stories of people who have disabilities. We invite you to learn the facts about the disability insurance program, and see and hear these stories of hardship and perseverance.

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About the Author

Phil Gambino, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Communications


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  8. Jane D.

    Rec’d SSID for 10 years then cut off suddenly. Dr. I had been seeing for ten years could no longer see me since last appointment was denied. Went to interview and Dr barely looked at me. Cold. When I was explaining my illness, she says ” I suggest you see a Physician”. Didn’t once show empathy. Asked about jobs I had before PTSD/Severe Depression. Appt. was over in 20 mins. Before I was cut off and pointed to the door, I asked if records had been received? Called and in writing before interview, stressed the importance of Dr interviewing me request records as my old Dr said she couldn’t give them to anyone else but another Dr. Come to find out Burnell, never requested 10 years of my life and my struggles even with physician’s monitoring and care. My file had nothing to prove my PTSD and depression were managed by three separate medications. Now, I cannot live. Future is my past. Before the diagnosis. If this is the gov’t I proudly worked for and retired from, I have wasted my entire life. I wanted to make a difference, AHCCCS, Dept. of Clemency, Child Support Enforcement, three agencies as a sworn Public Servant….and for what? To be treated like I don’t matter, probably don’t. How long has SSI been taking the lives of the Mentally challenged. I am not well, and it’s because you took my life. May GOD have Mercy on these so called helpers of the people. You leave us with absolutely nothing and expect so much. No one is safe. I have no family. I keep to myself. Don’t bother anyone, and I have nothing left.

  9. Maria B.

    Do people with permanent disability get the same monthly cash amount?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Maria. Thanks for your question. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. For adults, we use a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled. We consider any current work activity you are doing, your medical condition, and how it affects your ability to work. For more information about disability, visit here. In addition to meeting our definition of disability, you must have worked long enough — and recently enough — under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Your monthly disability benefit is based on your average lifetime earnings. You can also You can create a personal my Social Security account to review estimates of your retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, your earnings record, and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. We hope this helps.

  10. Joseph M.

    Why did my SSDI roll over to my SSA retirement benefit?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Joseph. Thanks for your question. It sounds like you have reached your full retirement age. Once a person reaches their full retirement age, we automatically convert their disability benefits to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. If you have specific questions regarding your benefits, you can also call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7:00a.m. and 7:00p.m. Generally, you’ll have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. We hope this helps!

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