The History of SSI/SSD

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two federal programs in the United States that provide financial assistance to individuals who are disabled and unable to work. These programs have a long history in the U.S., with their origins dating back to the 1930s.

Establishment of SSDI Under Title II

The Social Security Act of 1935 established the federal old-age insurance program, which provided retirement benefits to workers and their families. However, it did not include provisions for individuals who were disabled. In the 1950s, Congress began to recognize the need for a program to support disabled individuals and their families. In 1956, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program was established under Title II of the Social Security Act. This program provides benefits to individuals who have worked and paid into the Social Security system, but are now unable to work due to a disability.

SSI Established Under Title XVI

In 1972, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program was established under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. SSI is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 and have limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, SSI is not based on an individual’s work history. Instead, it is intended to provide a minimum level of income for individuals who are unable to support themselves.

Difference Between SSI and SSDI

The eligibility criteria for SSI and SSDI are different, as SSDI is based on an individual’s work history and SSI is based on an individual’s financial need. However, an individual may be eligible for both programs.

Implementing Improvements to SSI and SSDI

In the 1980s, the Social Security Administration (SSA) faced criticism for delays in processing claims the high level of grants. In response, the SSA implemented a number of changes to the disability determination process, including the use of more stringent medical criteria, the hiring of more adjudicators and support staff, and the development of a computerized system to track claims.

In the 1990s, the SSA continued to make changes to the disability determination process in efforts to reduce the backlog of claims and improve the efficiency of the process. One of the most significant changes was the implementation of the Disability Control File, a computerized system that allows for the electronic submission and tracking of claims.

In 2008, the Social Security Protection Act was passed, which included provisions aimed at improving the integrity of the SSDI program. The Act required the SSA to conduct continuing disability reviews for certain individuals receiving SSDI benefits, and also established a demonstration project to test new methods for returning individuals to work.

In recent years, the SSA has continued to make incremental changes to the disability determination process.  These include updates to the medical “listings” (criteria related to specific medical conditions that establish presumed disability) and changes to how medical source statements are evaluated that give less weight to treating physician opinions.  Most recently, in response to the Covid pandemic, it has adopted telehealth examinations and expanded the manner of hearings to included on-line video and telephone.  There have also been a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging individuals return to work.

To learn more about the history of SSI and SSD, visit:

1.       The Social Security Administration, “Historical Background And Development Of Social Security”

2.       Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Introduction to the Supplemental Security Icome (SSI) Program

3.       Edward D. Berkowitz, Statement before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the Committee on Ways and Means, July 13, 2000.

The Roose & Ressler Team is located in Lorain, Toledo, and Wooster, Ohio. You can count on us as your local disability specialist to analyze your case thoroughly to determine what is necessary for you to receive benefits. We assess the best methods on how to prove the crucial facts of your case and gather the necessary evidence. Having 40+ years of experience serving Northern Ohioans, we know the ins and outs of the local disability process.

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Social Security Disability

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