You Can Help Shape Our Disability Policy

November 2, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: November 2, 2015

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Social Security needs your help. We are asking for responses to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on how we should modernize our vocational rules, which we first published in 1978. These are the rules our disability decision makers use to decide whether an adult with a severe disabling condition can do any job in the national economy.

The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent the person from doing not only their previous work, but any other substantial work.

On Friday, November 20 in Washington DC, Social Security will host a National Disability Forum. The meeting will focus on the realities of employment for individuals with severe disabling conditions, especially for those who are older, have low skills, or low education levels. The purpose is to gather insight on circumstances such as age, education, and work experience, helping us understand the effect these may have on an individual’s ability to work and to adjust to other work. The National Disability Forum looks to consider how these vocational factors can and should inform our evaluation of an applicant’s ability to work consistent with the Social Security Act’s definition of disability.

Paul N. Van de Water will moderate a panel of experts from varying perspectives on these topics. Following the panel presentation, we encourage comments and discussion from all attendees. Your involvement is of the utmost importance in helping us further enhance our disability determination process.

Comments presented during the forum, panel, and open discussion period will be included in the public record for the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making, which is available in the Federal Register. To review and provide written comments, go to www.regulations.gov and enter SSA-2014-0081-0001 in the search box. Comments will be accepted until December 14.

If you plan to attend the forum, either in person or by phone, please register by Monday, November 16, 2015. For more information about the National Disability Forum series, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ndf.

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About the Author

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy


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  5. Denise D.

    my husband worked 32 years investing into a pension plan instead of social security. He is not disabled, unable to work. Can he draw disability?

    • Ray F.

      Hello Denise, you must be insured under the Social Security program before retirement, survivors, or disability benefits can be paid to you or your family.
      Generally, you need 40 quarters of coverage or credits (10 years of work) to qualify for Social Security benefits.
      If you do not have at least 40 credits, you are not currently entitled to benefits, but you may become entitled with additional work. In 2018, you must earn $1,320 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $5,280 to get the maximum four credits for the year.
      Please visit our Benefit Planner for more information on the Social Security programs. Thanks!

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  7. Joyce B.

    I am deaf in one ear due to surgery for brain tumor. Am I eligiblable for disability.

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  9. JJohnson

    Well I’ll B 43yrs this year and 3yrs ago coming up on Aug11 I was involved N an accident which has caused me 2 have 2 file 4 SSDI,and as glad and thankful of having it 2 fall back on that I am. It does seem as if some people around mid age get the Short end. I understand that originally it was just 2 help us 2 B able 2 get by on at retirement. I had over 20 yrs of work N before this and don’t know the exact amount I was caple of being able 2 collect before this but was close 2 23 or 24 hundred that was a couple yrs before work stopped I brought home 500-2000 a WK now I only get 1600 a month and that’s before it gets docked 134 4 insurance that only leaves 1500which seems like a lot and it is but it’s nothing capared 2 what I was bringing home or what I was eligible 4( 23 2 24 hundred .)by the time u get (not using exact numbers but throwing some what reasonable and common where I’m from Iowa) 600rent 50personable hygiene 300utilities 100perwk4 food (400) 75a wk gas n vehicle(300) 150auto insurance 300just 4 whatever daily items (lunch,soda, candy bar, kids need 20-40 2go 2 mall well I’ll stop there because I’m way beyond the 1500 receiving and then there’s still Christmas,BDays it just doesn’t work so now on top of losing your life pretty much cause u got no money 2 do anything with had 2 give life up already then u have all the trama your going through U have 2 fight 2get what u worked so hard 2 put money back 4 times like this and u literally got 2 fight 4 it, get denied ,have 2appeal it, u have permanent range of motion loss and use of your dominate hand U can’t even hold your hand out 2 receive change at the store because it has no twist u still get denied 4 disability luckily last minute realized that some how after being looked at so thourghly and all the ✋ it had 2 B reviewed by still looked over the part of the forms u filled out 3 or 4times of the exact same thing of they missed u hit your head had serious short term memory loss of (still do) now u have 2 b scheduled 2 go C their doc twice over next 2 months and another 3after that 4 final decision 2 come about. Meanwhile all the court stuff going on (lawyer secretly working 4 defense which trial still plays out for another tretseress yr and half to get pretty much nothing out of it when it should of been hands down not even thinking about making it 2 trial some how does and basically u don’t win but receive verdict n your favor 2 this day still waiting 2 receive check from lawyer that he’s had 4 4 months still trying 2tell u him and insurance company can’t come to a settlement decision as to what they r taking off the top back even though 3 wks ago called and left a mess saying he spoke 2 them and they promised 2 come 2 terms by end of the wk still haven’t , and just N general u don’t feel right n public anymore u feel like you’re not worthy ,embarrassing so easily annoyed by the stupidest little things that before u wouldn’t mind even of allowed your self 2 acknowledged irritate u so much. Can’t go back to the only career u pretty know at least that u can make 25an hour at even though disability still claims your arm ,hand and rest of your extremities r not disabled claim u can find other work 4 8an hour get shorted cause we R not retirement age even though remember few yrs ago Max eligibility 4 benefits was 23 or 24 hundred cause you’ve maintained a job since u was 15 yrs old have been on payroll some where paying all that extra tax money n just n case this ever happened which your wildest dreams never would of been able 2 think it would work this way no way possible what could happen 2 me nothing I can’t handle.WRONG.BUT now what about hair cut every other month clothes get wore out need replaced car troubles washer fridge take a dump toilet break’s I don’t get enough 2 make it through the month where’s that money coming from oh well this is your new life dead lifestyle got 2 make changes but let your ole lady leave ya and even though u don’t get her income included with yours u have got 2 maintain the lifestyle 4 her she had with u until she remarries even though you’re surely not going to remain the same and U haven’t been collecting x amount of money 4 every hour u and they worked 2 give back 2 them n case of bad unforeseeable times like these wait that what SS does 2 us except they don’t have 2 maintain our lifstyles 4 us not sure y not cause we had 2 over few yr relationship but we only paid n whole life and was even Max eligibility was even 800 a month more than we R receiving cause that wouldn’t B gravy but definitely make that do. So I’m on board 4 doing whatever I can 2raise awareness and help the people who make these decisions become more aware of the reality of what we really go through and deserve. Cause even though we think we can imagine what it would Be like if it happens 2 us well u can but really u can’t imagine what it really is like until unfortunately it happens 2 u 4those of us that really know. And I’m going 2 stop here memory thing again and I don’t really remember exactly where I was going I know I got small bits and pieces I’m sure u can probably figure most of it out or close but if I n anyway can help or b part of this please email, text, call me, send me a letter anything I would b very greatly honored and appreciative of being able to help. With that being said make no mistake I completely understand and have much respect and appreciation 4 every employee with S.S they work very hard humans just like us and just doing their job just like we used 2 do miss very much. So I applaud and bow 2 all SS employee’s and remember with out them we would get nothing and most of us would of had nothing saved on our own 2 fall back on. It’s a … we thing none of us can do it alone the only possible way 2 get there is we all have 2 come together as 1 and act as 1 2 get 2 the end. Yes I understand this post is a couple yrs old. I’m still willing 2 help n anyway possible anyway

  10. Ione H.

    I have tossed my benefit statement and need a copy for my tax preparer

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