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SSD Q & A

Information about Social Security Disability from the National Academy of Social Insurance, Washington, D.C.

How much is my disability worth?

Answering questions about the value of a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim depends on the circumstances, and every case is different. However, a worker who becomes disabled and unable to work can expect that his or her disability benefit will be linked to previous earnings.

The more a disabled worker earned annually, the smaller the percentage of earnings will be replaced by the SSD benefit. For example, in 2010, a worker who earned an average of $20,000 annually would have around 50 percent of previous earnings replaced by SSD benefits. A worker who earned an average of $100,000 annually would have around 30 percent of previous earnings replaced by disability benefits.

What are the most common disabilities among SSD recipients?

Many SSD beneficiaries have multiple disabilities. However, in 2009 the Social Security Administration reported the primary disabling conditions as follows:

  • 33.1 percent had mental impairments such as developmental delays other mental disorders
  • 27.6 percent had musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and back injuries (these conditions were much more common in recipients over age 50)
  • 8.8 percent had heart disease and other circulatory system diseases
  • 9.4 percent had nervous system and sensory organ disorders
  • 21 percent had injuries, cancers, metabolic and endocrine diseases such as diabetes, respiratory diseases and other disabling conditions

What are the demographics of SSD recipients?

When compared to the general population, SSD recipients differ from the general population age 18-64 in the following ways:

  • More are divorced (23 percent of SSD recipients are divorced compared to 12 percent in the general population)
  • More lack a high school diploma or GED (37 percent compared to 13 percent in the general population)
  • More lack education past high school (75 percent compared to 48 percent in the general population)
  • More live alone (23 percent compared to 11 percent kin the general population)
  • More are members of a minority group (17 percent compared to 10 percent of the general population)
  • More are poor (34 percent compared to 13 percent of the general population of working age adults)

Source: National Academy of Social Insurance, "What is Social Security Disability Insurance?" Aug., 2010.

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