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Changing population causes increase in disability benefit claims

In order to become eligible for Social Security disability insurance benefits a person must have a work record, meet certain financial requirements and have a qualifying medical condition. When a person meets the established criteria and submits a claim to the Social Security Administration, they must wait to hear if their request has been approved or denied.

Generally speaking, the SSA's retirement benefit program receives more attention that the disability program. However, many news reports have looked into growth of SSDI claims during the last few decades in recent months. As a result, many may be wondering what has caused this noticeable growth in disability claims.

Not long ago, two economists working with the SSA released a report that explains why the yearly increase in SSD beneficiaries has jumped from 250,000 in 1970 to 900,000 in 2008. According to their research, general population growth, an aging workforce and an increase in the number of working women can explain a great majority of that jump.

According to observers, this study shows a connection between age and disability. After many decades of working, a person may not physically be able to do his or her job. If they don't meet the age requirement for Social Security retirement benefits, then SSDI benefits might be the best alternative. Knowing that baby boomers are getting older, it makes sense that the number of people living with a disability would increase.

Although the jump in SSD beneficiaries drew skepticism and criticism from some, the economists' findings make sense. Even though large numbers of workers might want to maintain their occupation, their health could prevent them from doing so. Thankfully, there are resources available to help make ends meet while dealing with the effects of a disability.

Source:, "Explaining the 'mystery' of where all the disabled are coming from," Michael Hiltzik, Dec. 3, 2013

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