kylleBy Kylle’ D. McKinney

Alabama Social Security Public Affairs Specialist



May is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Awareness Month. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a rapidly progressive and fatal neurological disease that attacks the body’s ability to control muscle movement by ceasing the transmission of messages to muscles.


Social Security has identified ALS as a medical condition so severe it obviously meets our agency’s strict definition of disability and has included it on our Compassionate Allowances list. Our agency expedites the benefit application process for these applicants.  You can read more about Compassionate Allowances at


May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. This invisible disease comes in many forms, and it’s imperative that we approach people with mental health issues with compassion and empathy.


ALS and mental illness are just examples of the types of disabilities for which workers may receive Social Security disability benefits. The list is too long for one article, but includes cancers, diseases, birth defects, physical disabilities caused by accidents, and organ-related disabilities such as congestive heart failure.


Many people don’t think of disability as something that could happen to them. Statistics say the chances of becoming disabled are greater than most realize. 56 million Americans, or 1-in-5, live with a disability. 38 million Americans, or 1-in-10, live with a severe disability. A sobering fact for 20 year-olds is that more than 1-in-4 of them will become disabled before reaching retirement age. Disability can happen to anyone.


When disability does happen, Social Security can help people meet their basic needs. Our disability program provides financial and medical benefits for those who qualify to pay for doctors’ visits, medicines, and treatments.


Our beneficiaries are just like you. They have the same hopes and dreams. What makes their stories different is that they live with debilitating diseases that inhibit their ability to work. Social Security disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired people in the country. Our Faces and Facts of Disability webpage highlights stories about people who have disabilities. We invite you to learn the facts about the disability insurance program, and see and hear the stories of hardship and perseverance at These stories are just examples of the 38 million Americans who live with disabling conditions and need Social Security’s support to make ends meet.



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