Everyday People Matter

Reasons for Spike in Social Security Disability Claims

| May 6, 2013 | Backlog of Cases

You don’t have to be a Social Security disability benefits lawyer, or an SSD applicant to know that disability claims across the country have skyrocketed. CNN recently ran a report on the reasons why these claims have been increasing the way they have.

According to the Department Of Veterans Affairs, the number of disability claims filed by veterans has increased by 28% since 2008 alone. The CNN report blames the recession as well as the economic downtown that kicked off in 2008 and 2009, as the major reason why there has been an increase in these claims. Back during the 2001 recession, the same trend was seen, and disability claims increased by 13% in that year. In 2009, during the recession, claims increased by 21%.

Critics have tried to blame the increasing number of disability claims on laziness, and people applying for disability payments, instead of finding jobs. However, the fact of the matter, as any lawyer will tell you, is that so many people want to work, but are physically unable to do so. When jobs are scarce, people with any type of disability are usually the least likely to be hired. Also, as businesses scale back, a worker who needs an accommodation to keep his/her job may be the first to be let go.

The senior citizen population in the country has increased by approximately 8% since 2003, and this section of the population is already at a much higher risk of disability-related issues. The majority of disability claimants are in their fifties, a time period when decades of labor-intensive jobs and chronic conditions take their toll.

Advances in medical technology have enabled citizens to work longer and stay in the workforce longer. However, over time, even these advances cannot stall the inevitable. Medical advances have also benefited injured veterans, now returning home after a decade of war. These advances have improved the life-span prospects for trauma survivors. However, many cannot return to the work they have done in the past.

Finally, a decade of war has directly impacted the numbers of young men and women re-entering the workforce or returning home with long-term disabilities. Many veterans have returned with post-traumatic stress disorder which greatly impacts their ability to work in any environment.

Naturally, many are concerned about the solvency of the Social Security disability program. While shortfalls may be expected, the program is not insolvent has been alleged in the media. In fact, disability is funded through payroll deductions, not through the general tax program. Hence, the disability program is not adding to the federal deficit. As the economy recovers from a short period of recession, the disability trust fund will regain lost ground.