Social Security Disability: Efforts to Improve Claims Process Have Fallen Short and Further Action is Needed
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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DI and SSI provide cash benefits to people with long-term disabilities. While the definition of disability and the process for determining disability are the same for both programs, the programs were initially designed to serve different populations. The DI program, enacted in 1954, provides monthly cash benefits to disabled workers-and their dependents or survivors-whose employment history qualifies them for disability insurance. These benefits are financed through payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers and by the self-employed. In fiscal year 2001, more than 6 million individuals received more than 59 billion in DI benefits. SSI, on the other hand, was enacted in 1972 as an income assistance program for aged, blind, or disabled individuals whose income and resources fall below a certain threshold. SSI payments are financed from general tax revenues, and SSI beneficiaries are usually poorer than DI beneficiaries. In 2001, more than 6 million individuals received almost 28 billion in SSI benefits.
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