Five Quick Social Security Disability Facts

Important: We updated this article in May 2023 to make sure everything below is both current and correct. Many people know that the Social Security Act has been around since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it in 1935. But most people know very little about how Social Security actually works. How many people receive benefits through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) two disability programs each year? And how much are the monthly payments? Those thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits or who already receive payments often want to know more. Here, we’ll explain a bit more about the SSA and its long history of helping people with disabilities. Here are five fascinating Social Security disability facts you probably don’t know.

5 Quick Facts You Should Know About SSD Benefits

Social Security Disability Fact #1: Average Beneficiary Age

The average disabled worker getting SSDI benefits in 2023 is 55.3 years old. While Social Security disability does not discriminate by age, most beneficiaries are between middle age or retirement (i.e., aged 50-66). The average man getting SSD benefits is 55.2, while the average woman is 55.4 years old. Spousal disability beneficiaries are 58 years old, while children of disabled workers are 14 years old, on average. Note: SSDI benefits automatically convert into regular Social Security at 67.

Social Security Disability Fact #2: How the Disability Program Started

Social Security retirement payments started in the 1930s after FDR signed the Social Security Act. Then in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed amendments to create the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. For the first four years, only people aged 50-64 could qualify for monthly SSDI payments. In 2023, the average SSDI payment is $1,483 per month. The maximum payment anyone can receive is $3,627, but that includes a caveat. Only people who earned at least $147,000 per year for more than 10 years before may qualify for that SSDI amount.

Social Security Disability Fact #3: Gender Breakdown & Average Pay Amounts

In the past year, SSD benefit awards were split evenly (50/50) between men and women. Men newly awarded SSD payments in March 2023 got $1,849.20 each month in SSDI. By contrast, the SSA awarded $1,494.50 to women in monthly SSD payments, on average.

Social Security Disability Fact #4: SSI Recipients

President Richard Nixon created the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program in October 1972, and monthly payments began in 1974. It provides monthly payments to low-income people who are blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old. In March 2023, 85% of people on SSI were blind or had a qualifying medical condition. The maximum SSI payment for individuals in 2023 is $914 each month. For couples, SSI pays no more than $1,371 per month. Right now, the average monthly SSI payment is $678.47. In addition, SSI payments come from the federal government’s general tax fund, not the Social Security trust fund.

Social Security Disability Fact #5: Healthcare Coverage

SSDI beneficiaries qualify for reduced health insurance coverage through Medicare two years (24 months) after payments begin. People on SSI, on the other hand, can get Medicaid coverage starting the same month their benefits start. This coverage isn’t completely free, however. The SSA deducts each month’s Medicare or Medicaid premium cost prior to issuing each person’s benefit payment.

One of the least-known Social Security disability facts is about legal assistance. You’re nearly 3x more likely to get approved for benefits if a lawyer files your application. Those who qualify for expert claim help through our website usually get $13,800+ in back benefits as well as monthly payments. People who apply on their own without help usually wait at least 18-24 months for their first check.

Every Social Security attorney in our network offers free phone calls to answer your claim questions. They also work on contingency. That means if the SSA doesn’t award you anything, then you owe the lawyer $0. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay one small fee.

Want free expert claim help without leaving your home? Click the button below to start your free online benefits quiz to see if you may qualify now:

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.