Does my gender affect my eligibility for disability benefits or the amount that I will be paid?

Submitted by Shane on

As we have noted in previous blog posts, many different aspects of a person’s life factor into their eligibility for disability benefits. This includes more obvious factors like the ability to work and less obvious factors like a spouse’s income. This week, someone on Facebook sent us a question regarding gender and its effect on a person’s eligibility for disability benefits. Here is our response:

“Does my gender affect my eligibility for disability benefits or the amount that I will be paid?”

Gender has no effect on eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits or the amount that recipients will be paid.

Studies have shown that, in the past, women who met the Social Security Administration’s employment records were less likely than men to receive benefits under their own claims; however, that gap has begun to close over the last few decades, possibly because of an increase in female “breadwinners.”

More men appear to be receiving Social Security Disability benefits, but that is likely due to cultural traditions of men constituting most of the workforce, whereas women tended to enter and exit the workforce more often.

Because of this, at the time of their disability, many more men than women had been paying into the Social Security tax pool from which disability benefits are drawn, whereas women tended to receive payments under their spouse’s plan. As this custom has changed, so have the numbers of women receiving benefits under their own claim.

While you will be asked for your gender during the application, your answer will not factor into the SSA’s decision, just as there is no indication of gender on your Social Security card. Eligibility is based on strict medical criteria for your condition and whether or not you meet the employment or financial requirements associated with Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Gender may play a role in the particular symptoms of your impairment, but the Social Security Administration is not allowed to use gender itself as a condition for approval.

If you wish to change the gender on your Social Security record, the Social Security Administration recently updated its policy, allowing this to be done with a doctor’s statement confirming your transition or government-issued identification showing the change. This change will also not affect your payments or eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

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