Five Quick Social Security Disability Facts

social security disability facts

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 Facts: Average Beneficiary Age

The average disabled worker getting SSDI benefits in 2019 is 55 years old. While Social Security disability does not discriminate by age, most beneficiaries are between middle age or retirement (i.e., aged 50-64). 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.

Social Security Disability Facts: 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 December 2019, the average SSDI payment was $1,257.65/month.

Social Security Disability Facts: Gender Breakdown & Average Pay Amounts

In 2019, 50.5% of disability beneficiaries were men, and 49.5% were women. Men typically get $1,384.35 each month in SSDI, while women receive $1,128.39/month, on average.

Social Security Disability Facts: 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 2020, 86% of monthly SSI recipients are blind or have a qualifying disability. The maximum SSI payment for individuals in 2020 is $783/month; for eligible couples, it’s $1,175/month. Right now, the average monthly SSI payment is $575.29. In addition, SSI payments come from the federal government’s general tax fund, not the Social Security trust fund.

Social Security Disability Facts: 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.

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