The number of individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits has hit a record high. Beginning in 2008 and continuing through to the present, the number of new applicants for SSDI benefits has increased substantially, with 2.8 million Americans applying for benefits in 2008 and 2009. That was a 21 percent increase in applications from 2007. It should come as no surprise then that the more than 10 million Americans now receiving disability benefits also sets a record high.
Some argue that the SSDI fraud is the primary reason for the record number of disability beneficiaries. There may be some truth to this argument, as the downturn in the economy and the systematic expiration of extended unemployment benefits also coincide with the record increase in the number of SSDI applications that occurred between 2008 and the present. It is entirely possible that there are a number of individuals who were once able to work that have now turned to other sources in order to find the money necessary to survive – even if they have done so through less than scrupulous means.
While there are strict screening measures in place within the SSDI claims review system, and SSDI benefit fraud is always a concern, it is likely that at least some of those who are now receiving benefits are not truly disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) guidelines. Only time will tell this, as fraud investigations are conducted and potential issues with beneficiary eligibility are discovered.
The flip-side of the SSDI benefits record high is that more Americans are reaching the age where disability is more likely to occur. As the aging baby boomer generation – the largest single generation in world history – gets closer to retirement age, more and more health problems are to be reasonably expected. The baby boomers are, after all, getting older and are therefore subject to the same age-related illnesses and other health concerns that any other generation experiences. It is no surprise then that the number of SSDI applications and benefit recipients should increase as the ages of the baby boomers increase.
Another factor that few are talking about, but which warrants consideration when pondering the question of why the SSDI numbers have hit record highs, is the increase in environmental and lifestyle-related ailments that occur in contemporary society. These must account for at least a part of the increased number of legitimately disabled individuals applying for and receiving SSDI benefits.
The reasons for the increase in disability numbers are complex and anyone who pinpoints a single reason for the upswing in SSDI benefits is not seeing the whole picture. Regardless of why it has occurred, what the increase means is a drain on already overly-stretched resources. There are already staffing issues, review delays, and funding problems the SSDI program faces. The increase in the number of applicants and beneficiaries only puts further strain on an already taxed system.
A disabled individual who needs to apply for SSDI benefits should consider the benefits of having legal assistance throughout the application and claims review process preciously because of the extra strain the system is under. Hiring a Social Security attorney who is familiar with the application, review, and appeal processes can help you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled.