They Comfort and Assist. Let’s Celebrate Them

August 17, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: August 17, 2015

A happy working dogThe word “friend” conjures images of laughter and warmth. Friends stand by each other through good and bad times. They’re supportive, encouraging, and they come in all shapes and sizes — and sometimes with a wet nose and fur. Social Security celebrates four-legged helpers who aren’t only friends, but family and heroes: assistance dogs.

Assistance dogs help disabled people meet their daily needs. These faithful canines receive specific training to assist, comfort, and alert their special needs companion of danger. They allow their human wards to live independently and with confidence. Their training allows assistance dogs to help people with physical and mental disabilities, hearing loss, and seizures. Some also help our veterans and people with post-traumatic stress disorder to regain their independence, physically and emotionally.

From fetching medicine, to signalling an emergency, to answering the doorbell, these dogs are vital supporters. Their service is priceless, giving peace of mind to the families and friends of people with disabilities.

Social Security praises and cheers assistance dogs. Their labor of love is something we’re familiar with. Long ago, our agency made a commitment to empower people with disabilities by providing them with information about our programs, and what benefits are available to them. Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to access our programs, activities, and facilities, regardless of disability, is one of the promises we made to America in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Our reasonable accommodation options guarantee effective communication. We provide certified and qualified sign language interpreters, lip-reading or speech-reading services, telephone devices for the deaf or hard of hearing (TDD or TTY), and free handwritten notes upon request. If you or someone you know needs to request a reasonable accommodation, please visit our website, or call our toll free number (1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Like a faithful companion, Social Security is here to offer support and access to the information people need.

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About the Author

Phil Gambino, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Norman P.

    I’ve had my doctor prescribed and fully trained service dog for over 5 years so far. The SS was of no help nor was the VA. The most help I got was via the on line support groups and using my own funds. I have heard that some state Medicaid systems have helped folks with expenses but most do not. The VA refuses to help I believe because of high cost involved. I imagine the same is true of SS. When it comes down to money most government agencies are unwilling to help with Service Dogs like they will with home modifications or assistance vehicles. The main argument seems to be a lack of credentialed providers and accepted protocols. Wish I could offer more help but there just is none.

    • HunterSThompson

      Why would SSA pay for a service dog ? im confused ? they pay you money , I am assuming, from what you paid in. I did a search on ssa.gov and see no where any mention of them paying for or assisting in getting a service dog. I am just curious as to why you feel they should ?

  2. Former F.

    On behalf of my colleagues who still do their best to serve the public with professionalism and respect, I apologize for any rude or unprofessional behavior by any individual SSA employees. However, I must also emphasize that dealing directly with the public can be extremely challenging and frustrating at times; even those of us with the most compassion and patience occasionally have dealt with people who are irrational, argumentative, hostile, or mentally disturbed.

    As I have stated in a previous post on another subject, the public needs to understand that neither the Social Security Administration nor its employees have the authority to make or change any rules which are created by laws passed in Congress. As a result, SSA employees often have to give answers that people do not want to hear, and those people express their frustrations inappropriately by complaining only to those who have no power to change the law, rather than to their elected representatives in Congress.

    • someone

      so you said, “even those of us with the most compassion and patience occasionally have dealt with people who are irrational, argumentative, hostile, or mentally disturbed.” I am sorry but I understand the “irrational, argumentative, hostile” people, yes those are hard to deal with, but your job is to work with the “mentally disturbed.” people, those people are DISABLED!!! in my opinion you should get training to work with ALL disabled people, these included. If this is not the case please let me know and I WILL contact law makers and hope for change, because that is just not right!!!!

  3. Tom

    Disabled, wheelchair dependent, health going down hill. A service dog would be great and has been endorsed by the medical folks. The question always returns to WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE DOG? Training can only start after a dog comes. Any idea?

    • Brandi H.

      Yes exactly! I need one for my PTSD.. How come social security doesn’t pay for this?

      • Pat

        You can get a service dog at no charge to you. For ex: Florida service dogs is totally free. you have to be committed to going to the weekly training. they train you to assist in training the dogs, then they match you up to the right dog. it does take up to 2 years.
        google search for service dogs, there are several organizations. some do have fees attached and you have to be able to go to their facility for two weeks to work with the dogs and match you with one for you, again there are wait lists and take up to 2 years. or you can train your own service dog, I trained my Akita to meet my needs, I also have PTSD. you can get a rescue dog for minimal fee.

  4. Edith B.

    Thank you for all the years of service…. I have
    been retired since 1983 and your people have done
    their job and got my Ck to me on time each and
    every month every since…. Thank you and God
    Bless each and every worker

    • Ray F.

      Thanks for your feedback! We value your opinion of us and look forward to many more years of serving you in the future.

      • paul g.

        (in response to , I’m disabled and , at times, poor responses, from people)/ ( I only came on page, original searching for Service dog.. info..)/(as a dog is man’s best freind)!!!?right!?????..,
        … ‘mean when they can, get away…with , wrong-timing , wrong attitude/ ill-response. ‘
        These people are any where everywhere. Just ignore…and hold- poise _patient, and deep breaths, throughout… Remembering all your 1st,original, purely uninterrupted. Positive idea/ firm faith/strong minded/headed. Shoulders back. Brace yourseves! Stay untouched , innocent…dont show, any effects of, ill_attitude…etc..
        Because we the people, whom are , Disabled, holding our tickets, Corroporating. Of course, we do not deserve, disrespect, .. etc.
        We are the world? … no…?
        We can/need to work for what we need , to stay healthy and alive. Our one Chance, God Bless our government. We need to , let em know, kindly and sincerely. Through any feedback any means &,ways found… In person, word of mouth. Downtown. Any place where person s with disabilities..etc.. Meet. When we all, meet…
        all us , good for nothing, bad guys, (ha) SS** benefited persons .. when we stay in touch n reach out to one another… Answers come!!!..
        ‘ world wide web… The internet is a great blessing, a great way of communicating what,how… Our needs… How can our government.. keep up and fine tune..SS(benefits) … for future… Etc..

  5. Norene P.

    And I should mention that we are fortunate. We live in Howard County. And we have a working, accessible vehicle.

  6. Norene P.

    Not to be the “party pooper” here, but having two adult sons with severe disabilities and later even becoming an SSDI recipient myself as a direct result of their care… I just want someone to know that all the warm & fuzzy posts and Web pages don’t do a bit of good if you still herd us around like cattle, ordering us to appear (like their disabilities will go away?) and then keep us waiting, sometimes outside, for hours while a worker who obviously hates their job and can’t stand the “customers” screws up yet another flock of forms so we have to go back… Visit your field offices. Take a number & have a seat. You’ll see why I cringe everytime an envelope arrives from SSA in the mail. Better yet, take my boys. I’ll drive the accessible $65K mini van and do as much of the heavy lifting as I can… 🙂

    • Pattie O.

      Your not pooping on any party because you are exactly right about the lack of service. There is no path to filing a grievance about being disrespected and treated badly by any member of the Social Security Office when you visit or call and they know it so they get a way with it. One of the representatives told me on the phone when I asked to speak to his boss because he was being so rude and was threatening my livelihood to call my congressman if I have a problem. Then he had my check stopped without notice until after it was done. I absolutely hate dealing with the Social Security Office!!! Several years ago, they actually contacted my employer and disclosed I was on SSDI. Try filing a grievance and find out how quickly you hit a dead end! JERKS!!!

  7. Janet

    I think it is a wonderful idea being a disabled person myself and that Social Security would be more of an advocate for disabled people. I almost received a device companion dog myself but believed someone else could benefit more than I.

  8. Elizabeth J.

    I need information on how to get my dog registered as a service dog. He has been my service dog from 2008. I need to know because the apartments that I am moving into need paperwork showing that he is a service dog. Please help.

    • Dawn P.

      You need to inform the apartment managers that there is no official “registry” for service dogs. According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), they can ask you *if* the animal is a service animal and what function it is trained to provide–they can’t ask you what your disability is. You may provide a note from your doctor that the animal is a service animal, and is necessary for your well-being–that is its “registration”.
      You can learn all of the definitions and requirements here: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

      • Dawn P.

        Additonally, there are rules regarding emotional support animals, in the Fair Housing Act, which is separate from the ADA, and which might apply to your circumstance: https://www.animallaw.info/article/faqs-emotional-support-animals

      • Sandra H.

        Hi Elizabeth,

        Actually, you can officially register your dog as a service pet by going online to United States Dog Registry. That site gives you all the information you need to register. Also, I live in California and the only thing I needed in order to have my service animal living in an apartment complex that doesn’t allow pets is a note from my doctor stating it would be bennificial to my health to have a service animal. It doesn’t matter what type of doctor you get the note from either. Also, NOBODY AND I MEAN NOBODY can ask you anything regarding your service animal. Its protected by HIPPA laws. So if the manager or anyone else from the apartments your moving to ask you why you need a service animal, what type of service does your animal provide or any other question nosey people like to try to get away with asking, ask you, please let them know its against the law to ask. I have a friend who lives in apartments and the manager gets pissed every time I come to visit. He yells at me and tells me to get my damn dog off his property. I keep telling him he is a service animal and the manager keeps telling me he don’t give a s**t if he’s Santa Claus get him off my property. I’m thinking of sueing. And the manager is an ex-cop so he should know the rules for service animals.

        Hope this helps.

        • Olivia

          You can ask 2 questions, Is this a service dog? And what tasks does it do for you.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Elizabeth, we do not provide this type of services. To find information about how to register your service dog, visit The United States Service Dog Registry.

      • Norman P.

        Ray Fernandez is wrong and misleading you into scam territory.

        • HunterSThompson

          who is this Raymond Fernandez you speak of ?

  9. David N.

    We (my spouse and I) live in assisted living and some of the biggest smiles show with the visits by folk with animals !

  10. Kathleen H.

    Surely agreed about dogs or cats that are very good friends to us for the years. I have two middle sized, 11 yrs olds dogs that could understand our hand signs. They are partly family to us. When at seasonal home, we must take them along in seasonal north NY and home in Florida. One thing about fly fares for dog is expensive..huh. So my grandson will take my vehicle north from FL to bring me and dogs back to sweet home. My husband will fly home next month.

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