The percentage of women receiving disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program has increased significantly over the past few decades. While the gap between the genders in terms of eligibility for Social Security disability benefits has narrowed, the gap in the amount of benefits received has remained consistently wide.
First of all, it is important to remember that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not consider your gender when it determines your eligibility for benefits. It only requires the following two conditions to have been met:
- You must have paid into the Social Security system during your employment.
- You must suffer from a disability that makes it impossible for you to work and earn a sustainable income. The condition also must have lasted a minimum of 12 months or must be expected to last for 12 months or more.
If these two conditions are met, the Social Security Administration will begin the process of approving or denying your claim.
Women are as likely to qualify for and receive disability benefits as men. However, the fact is that on average, women are paid lesser in benefits compared to men. There is a simple explanation for this. Women may have been in the workforce for a shorter period of time, and are also more likely to have taken breaks from employment due to personal and family reasons. This lowers the amount of benefits that they are eligible for. They are also more likely to receive lower pay than their male counterparts. This, in turn, impacts the benefits that they qualify for. This is why as a disability attorney, I advise women to strongly consider the impact of leaving employment on their Social security benefits.
Lisa Smith Siegel is a Georgia Social Security disability benefits lawyer, helping disability applicants receive the benefits they are eligible for.