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Disability benefits: The reality of disability in the USA

Social Security Disability is sometimes talked about as if it's something people don't deserve or that costs others money, but the reality is that it has a very important place in the United States' benefit programs for workers. Like any other part of the Social Security system, it is meant to provide a safety net for workers who get hurt before they reach the age of retirement. As of April 2013, 8.9 million workers and 2.1 million dependents relied on disability income in some way.

Disability benefits are only available to individuals who have severe disabilities and who have workers in Social Security-covered jobs long enough to qualify. For most, a history of 5 to 10 years working in a Social Security-covered job is required. Spouses and children of those with disabilities may qualify as well, but the family, as a whole, is capped on how much it can receive.

Disability benefits are there to boost the incomes of those who can't work or who can work in a limited capacity. These individuals aren't living an easy life; the benefits are minimal, providing enough to live and have the necessities. Many who receive disability income live on a low income, and many live at or below the federal poverty level.

Overall, the reality is that people with disabilities are already struggling, and disability benefits provide a boost to their incomes so that they can get what they need. Combined with other benefits, it's possible to have a balanced income and to live with a disability without extreme concern about finances.

Source: Urban Institute, "How Important Is social security Disability Insurance to U.S. Workers?," Melissa M. Favreault, Richard W. Johnson, and Karen E. Smith, accessed May 25, 2018

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