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Recent trends in SSD applications

According to The Wall Street Journal, the number of Americans who have applied for and are now receiving a certain kind of federal benefit has jumped dramatically in recent years. Specifically, the number of individuals receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits has increased by a staggering 42 percent over the past 10 years.

This rapid increase has caused many experts to question if the number of Americans seeking disability benefits will continue to grow or will eventually recede. The answer to this question is unclear. However, it does seem that SSD enrollment numbers have achieved a sort of plateau for the time being.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the number of SSD beneficiaries in America was 10,939,936 in March of last year. With the exception of a slight spike at the end of 2013 and then a reduction in that spike, this number of enrollees has remained fairly steady for roughly one year.

It is also worth noting that fewer individuals applied for SSD benefits in 2013 than have applied since 2008. This is significant because the spike in applications which occurred during the economic downturn seems to have receded. Nevertheless, because the SSA pays out nearly $140 billion per year in SSD benefits to qualified enrollees, the program remains one of the nation’s most costly entitlement programs.

It is unclear what the future of the SSD program will be. Until significant changes are made, individuals who may qualify for these benefits should simply continue to apply and cross their fingers that the program will remain solvent well into the future.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Has Social Security Disability Enrollment Hit Plateau?" Damian Paletta and Josh Zumbrun, Apr 16, 2014

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