Social Security is often associated with individuals who are retired. However, the Social Security Act that created this system covers more than just the elderly. Provisions in the act allow persons who are disabled to receive benefits once certain conditions are met.
The Social Security Act stipulates that a person who is unable to work due to a severe medical condition may be eligible for benefits. This condition has to have lasted or be expected to last for at least one year or result in the death of the individual that is afflicted. Statistics have shown that if an individual begins to receive disability benefits at 55, 1-in-5 men vs 1-in-7 women die within five years of the beginning of their disability. The medical condition in question must prevent the individual from continuing to do the work that he or she was previously engaged in. The condition must also prevent the person from conducting any other work.
Unlike other aspects of Social Security, the provisions concerning disability are not limited by age. In fact, statistics have shown that 1-in-4 20-year-olds in the workforce actually become disabled before reaching the age of retirement. The disability benefits provided by the Act gives critical financial support and replacement income for individuals that are unable to work.
Social Security disability benefits are often the sole source of income for disabled Americans. Even with this benefit, it may be difficult to remain above the poverty level. In 2014, the average benefit paid for disability was a little over $1,100 each month. Even though the payments are modest, it provides needed funds to help pay for basic needs for the disabled and their families.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Faces And Facts of Disability," last visited Dec. 22, 2014