Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a program operated by the Social Security Administration, insures workers and their families against the inability to work because of a disability. As such, it provides a vital safety net for millions of Americans. However, conflicting statistics and differing perspectives on the program have given rise to a number of misconceptions about why it exists, whom it serves, and what it provides.
In this brief, the authors summarize key features of the program and describe some of the salient issues policymakers will need to consider to address the projected depletion of the SSDI Trust Fund in 2016. We also discuss the eligibility criteria for the program, benefit levels, and beneficiaries’ ability to work.