Perhaps the most misunderstood Social Security program is disability insurance, SSDI. Some people mistakenly think that beneficiaries are “on the dole” and getting easy money for minor impairments. That’s not the case.

The Social Security Act has a very strict definition of disability. To receive a disability benefit, a person must have an impairment expected to last at least one year or result in death, and so severe that it renders the person unable to perform any substantial work in the national job market, not just their previous work. SSDI does not include temporary or partial disability benefits. Therefore, Social Security disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired people in the country and tend to have high death rates.

Also, Social Security conducts a periodic review of persons who receive disability benefits to ensure they remain eligible for disability. We work
to prevent, detect and prosecute fraud, and often investigate suspicious disability claims before awarding benefits — stopping fraud before it happens. These steps help to ensure that only eligible persons have access to disability benefits.

Americans place a high premium on self-sufficiency, but it is reassuring to know that Social Security disability insurance is there when needed.

Meet a few people who have benefited from Social Security when they were most in need — at the new Faces and Facts of Disability website, They’re happy to share their personal stories with you.

For questions, online applications or to make an appointment to visit a Social Security office, contact: 1-800-772-1213 (toll free) | 1-800-325-0778 (TTY)