Why Has SSDI Enrollment Increased Over the Last 20 Years?

Submitted by Ram on Tue, 05/03/2011 - 14:36

The Social Security Administration (SSA) receives millions of disability claims each and every year. Of these claims, only about thirty percent are approved during the initial stage of the application process. The remaining Social Security Disability applicants must undergo a lengthy and complex disability appeal process in order to obtain the disability benefits they may be rightfully entitled to. The question is, why are so many more people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits than ever before?

The approval rate for Social Security Disability claims has not gone up in recent years, so why has the number of individuals receiving SSDI continuously increased over the past two decades? There is no one single answer for this issue, but rather a combination of factors contributing to the increase of SSDI recipients.

The Baby Boom Generation

When people think about the Baby Boom generation and Social Security Disability, they almost always consider how taxing these individuals will be on the Social Security system once they reach retirement age. The fact of the matter is that retirement is not the only impact that Baby Boomers have had or will have on the Social Security system.

When the Baby Boom generation began working, more money was being put into the SSA. This was actually a good thing, as the taxes these individuals have paid have probably kept the system afloat for a bit longer than it would have been able to do otherwise. However, one thing that was not necessarily planned for was the disabilities that this generation might face as they continued to age.

As Baby Boomers became disabled, the number of Social Security disability applications received by the SSA increased. While the approval rates of disability claims may not have gone up, the number of claims going into the SSA most certainly did. This resulted in a simple matter of mathematics. The more people you have applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the higher the number of people will be who are receiving SSDI payments as a result of those claims.

The Economy

Believe it or not, the economy is also playing a role in the number of people who are collecting Social Security Disability payments. Jobs are far and few between in most areas and disabled individuals who might otherwise try and make a go of entering the workforce are applying for Social Security Disability benefits. This, once again, causes the number of disability applications to increase and, as a result, the number of people who are receiving SSDI payments goes up.

Can the Social Security System Handle It?

Can the Social Security system handle the increase in the number of SSDI recipients? It is no secret that there is need for change in the Social Security system, but for right now the monthly payments being received by disabled individuals will continue. Only time will tell if the upward trend in Social Security Disability applications will continue and, if so, how it will impact the Social Security system as a whole.