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Who receives Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSD) provides benefits for individuals who can no longer work because of a disability. At the end of 2011, 9.8 million people received SSD benefits. Government statistics tell some of the story.

People with mental impairments

Thirty-two percent of SSD recipients have mental impairments as their main disabling condition. Of these, four percent had some type of intellectual disability. The other 28 percent received benefits because of conditions that include psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, affective disorders such as depression, panic attacks, and personality disorders.

People with musculoskeletal conditions

Twenty-nine percent of disabled workers receive SSD benefits because of arthritis, back injuries, spinal injuries, disc disease and fracture of the vertebrae.

People with circulatory conditions

Nine percent of SSD recipients had heart disease, including chronic heart failure, arrhythmias, aneurysms, peripheral arterial disease and other cardiovascular conditions.

People with nervous system impairments

Nine percent of people receiving SSD have neurological impairments, such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brain tumors, Parkinsonian syndrome and spinal cord lesions.

Other recognized causes of disability

The remaining 21 percent of SSD recipients include people with injuries, cancers, infectious diseases, metabolic and endocrine diseases, such as diabetes, diseases of the respiratory system and diseases of other body systems.

Other facts about SSD recipients

  • Many older SSD recipients are terminally ill. One in five males and one in seven females die within five years of starting to receive SSD benefits.
  • The average monthly SSD benefit in June 2012 was $1,111 a month or about $13,332 a year.
  • The average age of SSD recipients is 53.
  • The states with the highest percentage of SSD recipients are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia, with at least seven percent of the population receiving disability benefits.

Obtaining SSD benefits is a complicated process, and many applicants are initially denied. People frequently turn to a lawyer or advocate to help them navigate the SSD system successfully. At Binder & Binder®, The National Social Security Disability Advocates, our specialists help people who can no longer work because of their disabilities obtain the benefits they need and deserve.

Source: Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2011, July 2012. 

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