Social Security Administration Launches “Faces and Facts”


Recently, the Social Security Administration introduced a new branch of their website, The new campaign, called “The Faces and Facts of Disability,” seeks to help workers understand the complicated Social Security disability system.

Commissioner’s Message:

Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, produced a Commissioner’s Message for the campaign. In this message, she encouraged Americans to become educated and involved in the Social Security program, and thanked them for their daily contributions and efforts:

“Social Security touches the lives of nearly every American, often during times of personal hardship, transition, and uncertainty. Our programs serve as vital financial protection for working men and women, children, the disabled, and the elderly.

We administer the largest disability program in the nation. Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about our program. We want to ensure that the American public understands this important program and has a clear picture of the individuals living with severe disabilities assisted by our program.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce the launch of our new national communications campaign, The Faces and Facts of Disability. The campaign’s goal is to increase public awareness of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The campaign will provide facts about the program and personal stories about those who benefit the most.

Many of you work tirelessly every day to provide service to individuals with disabilities. I thank you for making a difference in their lives. Those served by our disability program are our family members, friends, and neighbors—real people in our communities.

I encourage you to play an active role in The Faces and Facts of Disability campaign. Please learn the facts about our program; watch the stories about our beneficiaries, then, share this important information with others.

Together, we can work to ensure that the SSDI program remains a viable resource for the severely disabled in our country.

Thank you for your support.” 

Social Security disability is awarded to to individuals who have serious, long-term disabilities. As defined by the Social Security Administration, a person is considered disabled if they: 1) cannot do work that they did before, 2) cannot adjust their work because of their disability, and 3) are expected to be disabled for at least a year or are expected to die from this disability.

Campaign facts and resources

As part of “The Faces and Facts of Disability” campaign, the Social Security Administration has provided a Social Security disability fact sheet available as a PDF on their website. The fact sheet breaks down the basics of disability payments and the influence of the program on our country. It explains:

“Fifty-six million Americans, or 1-in-5, live with disabilities. Thirty-eight million Americans, or 1-in-10, live with severe disabilities. Disability is something so many Americans, especially younger people, read or hear about happening to others. But no one thinks it will happen to them. Tragically, every day in this country thousands of young people are seriously killed or injured, often as the result of traumatic events. Many serious medical conditions, such as cancer or mental illness, can affect the young as well as the elderly. The sobering fact is that 1-in-4 20-year-olds insured for disability benefits become disabled before reaching retirement age. As a result, they may need to rely on the Social Security disability benefits for income support. Our disability benefits provide a critical source of financial support to people when they need it most.”

According to the fact sheet, 9 million Americans are currently receiving some form of Social Security disability benefits. As the fact sheet points out, the number of people applying for disability continues to rise for two main reasons:

  1. Baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1965) reached their disability-prone years between 1990 and 2011
  2. More and more women continue to join the workforce and become eligible for benefits after working a sufficient number of quarters

Because Social Security disability is a program that affects so many people, the Social Security Administration wants those people to be educated about exactly how the program works. The “Facts and Faces” website offers resources to Americans, including a disability quiz and informational video. The website offers users the chance to submit their own disability story, and contains answers to basic questions about the program. The SSA also created a “Materials” page, which contains infographics, posters, widgets, and newsletter articles for the public to use and to help educate employees and organizations about the Social Security disability program.

For more information about the campaign and about Social Security disability benefits, visit

Photo of Commissioner Colvin courtesy of: