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Social Security and Disability

Posted on:12/21/2011
Disability benefits under the Social Security Program are an all-or-nothing proposition. One either receives a full pension, based on average earnings, family composition, and the other factors common to Social Security, or no pension at all. The program is structured in such a way that someone is either totally disabled or not disabled at all. A person cannot get partial payments.

A person who gets a Social Security pension receives permission from the federal government to retire. The program takes such factors as his average wage or the number of people in his family into consideration, yet it does not consider that people who are more impaired may need more money in retirement. To some extent, the program compensates for this problem by granting people with lower incomes and shorter times in the labor force a higher return on their Social Security investments but that might not be enough.


In the real world, the definition of disability seldom conforms to this typology. With so many cases to process, the Social Security program follows rules that attempt to treat people in the same condition the same way, even though people respond so differently to illness or injury. The rules must withstand rigorous legal and political tests.


Although these rules may be definite, they do not transform disability determination into a science or conform to the social science concept of disability. It is not an easy matter to decide whether someone can only work in a sedentary job. Someone in a wheelchair might, for example, be able to do non-sedentary work. The system also allows people with severe impairments that meet or equal the medical listings, a record of sustained employment, and a spell of recent unemployment to collect disability benefits automatically.

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How Does Social Security Define Disability? Disability Determination Disability Application Process
Disability Denial and Reconsideration Appealing the disability Denial Decision Medicare and Medicaid
What is Social Security Disability? SSDI SSI
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