Tag Archives: Title II

An Orientation to Social Security Disability Programs – Part I

Yes, you read that right – disability programs.  Plural.  There are two.  And they are different in ways that matter to an informed national conversation about them.

The first disability program Social Security administers is an aspect of “Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Benefits.”  The second disability program is “Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind and Disabled.”

In this post, I will discuss only the first one.

Social Security’s first disability program goes by many names colloquially.  Some call it “SSDI” which stands for “Social Security Disability Insurance,” while others call it “DIB,” an acronym for “Disability Insurance Benefits.”  Still others call it “straight Social Security.”  Insiders refer to it as “Title II” because it is Title II of the Social Security Act.

Note the word “insurance” that pops up in the monikers of this disability program.

When you pay Social Security payroll, or “FICA” taxes, those are essentially an insurance premium for a policy you have purchased through the Social Security Administration.  This insurance policy provides retirement insurance for policy holders who have reached a specific retirement age, Medicare health insurance, survivors’ benefits for policy holders’ dependents (if the policy holder dies or becomes disabled while still having dependents) and disability benefits.

So, if a person is receiving Disability Insurance Benefits he or she has paid their disability insurance premiums over the course of their working life, had the condition precedent occur, i.e., has become disabled (and has proven it to the Social Security Administration), and then, finally, is eligible to receive disability benefits.  The amount of benefit received is based directly on how much has been paid in Social Security payroll taxes.

The chain of events again:  1) paid insurance premiums over the course of a working life, 2) made a meritorious claim, 3) proved the claim was meritorious, and finally, 4) received a payout on the disability insurance policy.

Scandalous.  I know.

But, in the press there is such a stigmatization of the people who go through this process.  They are dismissed as “entitled” or villified as frauds.

Perhaps an addendum to the chain of events is warranted.

Perhaps the chain of events should be:  1) paid insurance premiums, 2) made a meritorious claim, 3) proved the claim is meritorious, 4) received a payout on the disability insurance policy, and 5) endured being defamed by a misinformed press as an idle, worthless, faker and fraud.