It often seems like the only news that comes out about the Social Security Disability (SSD) programs these days is bad. Accusations of benefit fraud seem to be rampant. And with recent stories circulating around St. Louis claiming that the program was recently found to have paid out millions to non-eligible beneficiaries, those accusations will most likely continue to grow, especially as the program faces an inevitable fiscal crisis in the coming years.
The case for rampant SSD fraud seems to be supported by recent data which shows that the number of new claimants has grown from 250,000 per year in 1970 to over 900,000 per year in 2008. Many have taken these numbers and run with the idea of countless people defrauding the system. Yet recent independent studies seem to rebuff that argument.
According to data collected from economists, factors such as aging baby boomers, the increase of women in the workplace, and population growth in general account for at least 90% of the growth of the SSD benefit population. These findings seem to coincide with the time that baby boomers first began to enter the workforce in the 1970s. Many of that generation are now reaching the age when disability is most likely to occur. This factor alone should account for a large increase in the number of workers applying for SSD benefits.
While representatives from the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be the first to admit that the SSD and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are not without their flaws, they'll also point out the SSA still remains the largest provider of disability benefits in America. One needing to receive these benefits may wish to speak with a Social Security lawyer to better help him or her understand the application process and to let him or her know if he or she meets the program's qualifications.
Source: Los Angeles Times "Explaining the 'mystery' of where all of the disabled are coming from" Michael Hiltzik, Dec. 03, 2013