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.
Social Security Disability Fact #1: Average Beneficiary Age
The average disabled worker getting SSDI benefits in 2022 is 55 years old. While Social Security disability does not discriminate by age, most beneficiaries are between middle age or retirement (i.e., aged 50-65). The average man getting disability benefits is 54.9, while the average woman is 55 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 full retirement age (FRA).
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 establish the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. For the first four years, only disabled Americans aged 50-64 could qualify for monthly disability payments. In 2022, the average SSDI payment is $1,358/month. The maximum payment anyone can receive is $3,345/month, but that includes a caveat. Only people who earned close to $150,000/year for more than 10 years before could potentially qualify for that amount.
Social Security Disability Fact #3: Gender Breakdown & Average Pay Amounts
In the past year, disability benefit awards were split evenly (50/50) between men and women. Men typically got $1,404 each month in SSDI, while women received $1,149/month, on average.
Related: 5 Disability Facts That Are Just Plain Wrong
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 the poorest Americans who are blind, disabled or age 65 and older. In 2021, 86% of monthly SSI recipients were blind or had a qualifying disability. The maximum SSI payment for individuals in 2022 is $841/month; for eligible couples, it’s $1,261/month. Right now, the average monthly SSI payment is $585.04. 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 healthcare coverage through Medicare two years (24 months) after their disability payments begin. SSI recipients, on the other hand, are eligible for Medicaid coverage starting the same month their benefits begin. This coverage isn’t completely free, however. The SSA deducts each month’s Medicare or Medicaid premium cost prior to issuing the recipient’s benefit payment.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
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 helps you. Those who qualify for legal assistance through our website typically receive $10,000 in lump-sum back benefits as well as monthly payments. People who apply on their own without legal assistance usually wait at least 18-24 months for their first disability check.
Every Social Security attorney in our network offers free, no-obligation phone calls to answer your disability claim questions. They also work on contingency. That means if the SSA doesn’t pay you a cash settlement, then you owe the lawyer $0 for helping you. And if you do win benefits and a lump-sum settlement, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation 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 Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, 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.