Financial Security


What is Social Security?

Social Security includes two Federal programs that provide benefits based on disability and are the largest of several programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Eleven million people with disabilities and their families, about one third of recipients, rely on social security for their survival. Workers who pay Social Security taxes qualify for disability and retirement benefits, and, if they die, their spouses and children receive survivors' benefits. People with disabilities may receive Social Security's retirement, survivors, and disability insurance benefits based on their work history, age, or eligibility category.


History of Legislation

Social Security Act of 1935

  • A measure to implement social insurance during the Great Depression
  • Enacted August 14, 1935

Social Security Act Amendments of 1954 (PL 761)

  • Established a disability "freeze" for disabled workers and defined disability
  • Enacted September 1, 1954

Social Security Amendments of 1956 (PL 880)

  • Established monthly cash benefits for eligible disabled workers
  • Enacted August 1, 1956

Social Security Amendments of 1958 (PL 85-840)

  • Provided benefits for dependents, spouses, and children, of disabled workers and provided for 12 months of retroactive payments
  • Enacted August 28, 1958

Social Security Amendments of 1960

  • Established benefits for disabled workers under age 50 & introduce a trial work period to allow beneficiaries to try working without losing benefits right away
  • Enacted September 13, 1960

Social Security Amendments of 1972

  • Created the Supplemental Security Income program
  • Enacted October 30, 1972

Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984

  • To ensure more accurate, consistent, and uniform disability determination under SSDI program
  • Enacted October 9, 1984


What is Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act?

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act created tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities who have a disability before age 26. ABLE accounts help individuals with disabilities to save for and pay for disability-related expenses (such as housing, transportation, personal support services, health care costs) without jeopardizing access to Medicaid home and community-based services and other federal supports they need to live in their communities.

History of Legislation

Stephen J. Beck Achieving a Better Life Experience Act

  • Allows each state to establish or partner with another state to offer a "qualified ABLE program" that would allow residents of their state to open ABLE accounts and makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to build savings and save for current and future expenses.
  • Enacted December 19, 2014
  • Incentivize employment by allowing ABLE beneficiaries who work and earn income, but do not participate in an employer's retirement plan, to save additional amounts in their 529A (ABLE) accounts up to the federal poverty level (currently $12,140) in addition to the $14,000 annual maximum contribution. Beneficiaries would also be eligible for the Saver's Credit, an existing federal tax credit that low and middle-income individuals can currently claim when they make contributions to a retirement account.
  • Enacted December 22, 2017
  •  Protects against life-changing events by allowing ABLE beneficiaries to roll over regular 529 accounts to 529A (ABLE) accounts up to the annual maximum contribution.
  • Enacted December 22, 2017

Other Topics for the 117th Congress

The ABLE Age Adjustment Act (H.R.1219, S.331) would improve the equitable treatment of people with disabilities by raising the age of onset of disability from 26 to 46, which would allow more individuals who become disabled later in life to take advantage of the benefits of ABLE accounts.