Planners in the Social Security Administration wrote a strict definition of disability into their early proposals in order to distinguish between unemployment and disability. The strict definition is similar to the one today in the present law. The Social Security Administration defines disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In simpler terms, you are disabled if you are unable to work due to an illness or medical condition that is life threatening or is expected to continue to be disabling for one year.
In the early years, the SSA only paid SSD benefits to workers who were fifty years of age or older. Today any individual over the age of 18 who has worked and earned coverage may be eligible for disability benefits.
Today there are roughly nine million people on SSD and SSI. Currently the average benefit amount for someone on SSD is $1,165.18. The maximum monthly amount an individual can receive on SSI is $733.00.
At the present time, there are 181,725 benefit applications filed each month at local Social Security field offices. This does not include applications that were filed online at a person’s home or done by a third party such as an attorney’s office. Each month approximately 64,000 people will be awarded disability benefits.
SSA.gov, “Disability Policy and History”
SSA.gov, “Social Security Beneficiary Data”