More than 10.1 million people were paid disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program in 2012, 2.5 percent of whom were disabled widows or widowers.
According to the most recent report from the Social Security Administration, awards to 960,206 disabled workers accounted for 90 percent of awards to 1.06 million disabled beneficiaries.
In December, payments to disabled beneficiaries totaled $10.9 billion and benefits were terminated for 728,320 disabled workers.
The SSA found that the number of disabled workers began to steadily increase beginning in 1990. In December 2012, there were 8.8 million disabled workers; 1 million disabled adult children and 255,472 disabled widows and widowers receiving disability benefits.
Geographically, the states with the highest rates of disabled beneficiaries—7 percent or more—were Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia. The West and Midwest had the lowest rates of disability.
About one in seven disabled beneficiaries also received Supplemental Security Income payments.
Workers accounted for the largest share of disabled beneficiaries, or 87.5 percent. The average age of those receiving benefits was 53, with men accounting for the majority of those benefits. Disabled beneficiaries with mental disorders accounted for one-third of the payments made in 2012.
According to the SSA, the average monthly benefit received was $1,134.86.
The percentage of disabled-worker beneficiaries increases with age for both men and women. In December, the largest percentage of disabled-worker beneficiaries were between the ages of 60 and 64. Disability benefits convert to retirement benefits when the worker reaches full retirement age, which is between age 65 and 67, depending on the year of birth, according to the SSA.
The Social Security program has been providing cash benefits to people with disabilities since 1956. In 1958, it added payments to disabled workers’ dependents. In 1967, the act was amended to provide benefits for disabled widows and widowers aged 50 to 64 at a reduced rate.
To be eligible for the program, a person must be totally disabled. SSDI does not pay benefits for partial disability or for short-term disability.