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Why Are Social Security Disability Benefits Recipients Declining?


If you read articles and listen to the news, it appears as though there are way too many applying for and receiving Social Security Disability benefits. They need to improve their medical conditions and get off the system.

High numbers of applicants and recipients were a problem for 35 years for several main reasons. First, the definition of disability was broadened in 1984, allowing more people to qualify for benefits. Plus, the Baby Boomer generation started aging, creating more disability claims. A third reason was that women started going back into the workforce, and they soon qualified for disability benefits as well.

These are no longer issues as Baby Boomers now move into retirement and the number of women going into the labor force has leveled off. In fact, the truth is that today, in 2022, fewer people are receiving Social Security Disability benefits than they did in 2014, the peak year for beneficiaries.

The rolls consist of new beneficiaries as well as those already receiving benefits. While there is some pressure due to increasing life expectancies, this has been balanced out by the declining incident rate.

So why are the rolls declining? There are a few theories. They include easier access to healthcare, more people working in less physically demanding industries, business cycle factors, and new policies and procedures.

In 2009, the Social Security Administration implemented new policies and procedures. They include new training and monitoring. Plus, judges were assigned fewer cases, which allowed them more time for consideration.  These initiatives reduced the approval rate from 57% in 2009 to 49% in 2019.

There are several reasons why a beneficiary would exit the Social Security Disability program: death, recovery from their medical condition, or conversion to retirement benefits at retirement age. It is believed that the COVID pandemic may have contributed to two of these reasons: death and retirement. About 80% of people who died from the coronavirus were at least 65 years old, causing U.S. life expectancy to decline a full year in the first half of 2020. The pandemic also caused more people to retire earlier than expected.

It is hopeful that the decline in Social Security Disability rolls is because of a healthier population or safer work environments. The biggest concern right now should not be that the rolls are declining but that those who are disabled are getting the benefits they deserve in a timely manner.

Learn More About Social Security Disability Benefits

Even though fewer people are receiving Social Security Disability benefits than they were eight years ago, there is still a backlog. Getting benefits is still a long process—and that’s even if you are approved.

Get your benefits approved as quickly as possible with help from a White Plains Social Security Disability lawyer from The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon. We have the skills and knowledge to effectively handle your case. Call (914) 228-1770 or fill out the online form to schedule a free initial consultation.



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