THE CONSORTIUM FOR CITIZENS WITH DISABILITIES, a disability advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. recently reported the following relating to the Social Security Disability programs, and the modest support they provide to recipients.
(1) About 57 million Americans, or 1 in 5, live with disabilities. About 38 million, or 1 in 10, have a severe disability. Only those with the most significant disabilities or illnesses – about 13 million working age individuals – receive vital support from our nation’s Social Security system
(2) Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is funded through payroll tax contributions. It provides benefits to workers who have contributed enough via payroll taxes to be insured and who become disabled before reaching full retirement age.
(3) Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides support to low-income children and adults with severe disabilities, as well as low-income seniors.
(4) The average SSDI benefit for a disabled worker is about $1,130, just over the federal poverty line, and the average SSI benefit is just about $509 per month as of August 2013 – about half of the federal poverty level for a single person, and less than $17 per day.
(5) For most adult disability beneficiaries, SSI and SSDI make up all or most of their income.
(6) SSDI and SSI benefits keep millions of people with disabilities from deep poverty and homelessness. Poverty rates are substantially higher for people who report significant disabilities but are not receiving SSDI benefits than for people who have been receiving SSDI benefits for at least five years. Even with benefits, a full quarter of SSDI beneficiaries live in poverty, and the majority are low-income.