Why Are Social Security Disability Claims on the Rise?

Submitted by Chris on

Although it has been reported that the economy is slowly getting better after some turbulent times, Social Security Disability claims are still on the rise. Why is the Social Security Administration receiving more and more claims for disability benefits? Why was there an increase of 21-percent for disability applications between 2008 and 2009? Even more importantly, what does this increasing number of disability claims mean for disability applicants? If you are wondering why there are more disability claims than ever before and how the rising number of applications is affecting processing times (and how it will affect future disability benefits), the following information will answer your Social Security Disability questions.

What is Causing the Increase in Disability Benefits?

There isn't any one single reason for the increase in Social Security Disability claims. The increase in disability applications is actually due to a number of causes, and all of them are coinciding at once.

The first reason for the rise in Social Security Disability claims is due to the aging baby boom population. As this generation ages and becomes disabled in the workforce, more and more people are filing claims for disability benefits. While many people weren't worried about the baby boomers' impact on Social Security until the generation reached retirement age, it is becoming apparent that the generation is having an affect on the disability program.

Another reason for the rise in disability claims is due to the downturn in the nation's economy. Some of the disabled individuals who may have otherwise tried to work in spite of their disability are finding it easier to file for Social Security Disability benefits than it is to find a job that can accommodate their disabling condition.

What Does the Increase in Disability Claims Mean to Disabled Applicants?

Does the rise in Social Security Disability applications mean it will be harder for individuals to obtain Social Security Disability benefits? Not necessarily. What it does mean, however, is that the backlog of disability applications being processed by the Social Security Administration may become more of an issue, creating increased delays in disability application processing times.

It still only takes three to four months for the Social Security Administration to process an initial claim for disability benefits. However, applicants who must appeal the SSA's decision to deny their benefits may have to wait longer to receive a Social Security Disability hearing. As of now, some applicants wait almost two years to be scheduled for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. This wait time may become even longer as the number of applications received by the Social Security Administration rises.

Another topic of concern is whether or not the Social Security budget can accommodate the rising number of individuals receiving Social Security Disability benefits. It is no secret that the Social Security program is in financial trouble. Analysts have been estimating that if something is not done to address the concerns, the Social Security Administration will run out of money to pay disability benefits. If the number of disability recipients continues to increase at such an alarming rate, the financial situation will only worsen. On account of this, many people feel that there is a strong need for Social Security reform in order to maintain the feasibility of the Social Security program.

Is Social Security Disability Being Used as a Welfare Program?

Some have speculated that the rise in disability claims during troubled economic times means that Social Security Disability benefits are being used as a “back door” welfare program. Experts argue that this is not the case. In order to qualify for disability benefits an individual must have a disabling condition that prevents them from being able to perform any gainful work activity. It can be very difficult to obtain disability benefits and the application and appeal process is extensive and lengthy. Only about 30 percent of disability applications are actually approved and only those who meet the strict guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration ever go on to receive the benefits for which they applied. While some disability benefits may go to individuals who are in desperate need of monetary assistance, the way the program is set up makes it difficult for someone to abuse benefits.

Your Application for Disability Benefits

If you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits and are worried about the affect that the rise in applications may have on the time it takes for you to be awarded benefits, you may want to consider retaining the services of a disability attorney. Your attorney can help you prepare your disability application, presenting it in the best light possible to the Social Security Administration. If your initial application is denied, your attorney can help you to file timely appeals and may be able to minimize the amount of time it takes you to go through the disability appeal process.

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