In August, 1956 President Eisenhower signed into law amendments to the Social Security Act to add coverage for the disabled. This
addition to Social Security benefits was good news for those persons who could no longer work. It is interesting to note, however, how different the program was when it started six decades ago. For example:
* The minimum age to be eligible for disability benefits was 50. The maximum age was 64.
* Children of Social Security beneficiaries who were disabled before age 18 could also claim benefits.
* The disabling condition need to either result in death or be of a "long-continued and indefinite duration."
* The waiting period for benefits was six months, rather than the five currently
* Anyone who qualified for benefits was immediately referred to the vocational rehabilitation services in his state.
* There were no benefits for the dependent children of the disabled.
Clearly, the program has expanded since then. For example, an adult of any age can get disability benefits if she is unable to work. Also, the language about an "indefinite duration" has been replaced with a one-year requirement.
The program has been a success in its sixty years. In that time, almost eleven million men, women, children, spouses, and widows have collected benefits. This has helped to lift people out of poverty and allowed the disabled to live independently. It's comforting to know that there are government programs that work as intended.
I hope you will never need to apply for Social Security disability. But if you do, or you just have questions about it, please call, text, or email.