This is the fourth installment in our Social Security Works series. So far, we have seen how Social Security works for America, how Social Security works for women, how Social Security works for people of color, and today we will show how Social Security works for people with disabilities.
Since 1956, the Social Security program has provided cash benefits to people with disabilities and their families.
• 9.3 million people with disabilities, their spouses and children
• 7.4 million disabled workers under the full retirement age
• 1.9 million spouses or dependent children of disabled workers
• 870,000 disabled adult children of workers who are deceased, retired or disabled
• 230,000 disabled widows or widowers of deceased workers
• Payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled more than $8.6 billion.
As of December 31, 2008, 154.5 million workers—over three-fourths of the U.S. workforce—are insured for disability benefits through SSDI should they become permanently disabled and unable to work and support themselves and their families. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.
DI provides monthly cash benefits that replace a portion of the earnings that are lost when a person can no longer work because of a disability. Benefits are based on an individual’s past earnings (up to an annual maximum), with higher replacement rates for lower wage workers. In 2008, disabled worker beneficiaries received an average monthly benefit of $1,063.10. Beneficiaries receive inflation-protected benefits as long as they remain disabled.
When the disabled worker reaches the full retirement age (currently between 65-67 years) SSDI ends and benefits are automatically converted to retired-worker benefits.
The following graph shows just how important Social Security is to keeping families with disabled workers out of poverty.
SSI payments were another source of income for about 1 out of 6 disabled beneficiaries. About 84 percent of recipients of Supplemental Security Income, or approximately 6.3 million people, received federally administered payments on the basis of a disability.
Social Security works for people with disabilities, Social Security works for America.
This blog series is a joint project of America’s Future and Social Security Works.