The Beginnings Of SSA Disability

The above image is of a 1968 poster advertising Social Security disability benefits.

Today is the anniversary of major legislation in the evolution of Social Security disability benefits.

As signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Social Security Amendments of 1954, originally disability benefits provided for a “freeze” to a person’s record during the years when they were unable to work. This was to help prevent periods of disability from reducing or wiping out retirement and survivor benefits due to reduced earnings. Disability cash benefits were not part of this legislation.

On August 1, 1956, the Social Security Act was amended to provide monthly cash benefits to permanently and totally disabled workers aged 50-64 and to pay child’s benefits to disabled children aged 18 or over of retired or deceased workers, if their disability began before age 18.

Note that the 1956 benefits to adult disabled children overlap into the retirement and survivors portions of Social Security. These benefits have changed since the 1956 legislation. Current information about benefits for children with disabilities is here.

Over several years, President Eisenhower signed legislation forming the basics of Social Security disability. In September 1960, he signed a law amending the disability rules to permit payment of benefits to disabled workers of any age and to their dependents.

More changes came later. Learn about today’s Social Security disability program here.

As of May 2016, approximately 8,884,000 disabled workers receive Social Security benefits with the national average benefit being around $1,166 per month. These numbers change monthly.

More about the impact of Social Security disability is in The Faces and Facts of Disability portion of the SSA website.