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Chartbook on Women and Disability

Section 3: Women: Disability, work, income and benefits

3.8. Are there gender differences in Social Security benefits for disabled workers?

As of 1997, 4.5 million Americans received benefits as disabled workers under the Social Security Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Disabled workers represented 10.0% of the total beneficiaries of OASDI and 15% of the people who were awarded OASDI benefits in 1997. Disabled workers are people under age 65 who have earned at least a certain minimum amount of wages in employment covered under Social Security and who qualify as disabled under Social Security criteria. They generally receive income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Many more men than women receive OASDI disabled worker benefits. In 1997, 59% of those receiving benefits were men (2.7 million men, compared to 1.8 million women). For men, the average monthly benefit in 1997 was $810, while for women it was only $595. Benefits have been consistently higher for men over four decades. The gap between the average monthly awards of men and women has also grown since 1970, as shown in five-year increments in the chart, below.

On average, men receive higher disabled worker benefits, and the gap between men and women has increased over the past 25 years.

Line chart. Go to Data Table for Figure 17 for the data values shown in this chart.

Figure 17: Average monthly Social Security benefit for disabled workers, by gender, in five-year increments, 1960-95

Data Table for Figure 17

Source: Social Security Administration (1997), Table 5.E2.

Surveys: Social Security Administration Program Data, 1960-1995

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