Key Points of This Article:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that provides monthly payments to disabled workers who have paid into the Social Security system through employment.
  • After a period of substantial growth, disability prevalence rates under the SSDI program have been in decline. Trends related to economics and changes in the processing of claims have emerged.
  • Especially now, due to COVID-19 disruptions, applying for benefits or appealing Social Security decisions of any kind can be a complicated, drawn-out, and a confusing process to understand.
  • A lawyer can help you obtain the benefits needed and deserve, and can protect your rights to appeal a denial.

Social Security Disability Insurance Trends to Watch For

According to data sources provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA), after a period of growth in the early 1990s through the early 2000s, disability incidence and prevalence rates under the Social Security Disability Insurance program declined. The agency published a paper discussing these changes. It provides a summary of cause and effect factors that might be driving these numbers in a downward pattern and explain recent trends.

  1. While the changes were difficult to project, a quick and dramatic fall in the disability incidence rate began in 2010.
  2. Declining mortality among disabled workers has impacted the disability prevalence rate but offset by the declining disability incidence rate.
  3. Disability incidence rate may be tied to economic trends and fluctuations partly explainable by economic cycles. As the SSA data shows, “For example, the 3.9 percent unemployment rate in 2018—below the 5.5 percent steady-state rate assumed in theOASDI Trustees Report (Board of Trustees 2019)—explains a bit more than a third of the difference between the observed disability incidence rate and the long-run rate consistent with steady-state unemployment.”
  4. Related to recessions and higher unemployment rate, similar to what the U.S. is experiencing due to COVID-19 disruptions, research has usually found significant effects of the unemployment rate on both applications and awards.
  5. Health insurance access and availability “may have played a significant role, with earlier studies finding a clear indication of a cross-sectional correlation between the costs that Medicare might cover and the probability of application for disability benefits.”
  6. There is some evidence that a shift in industrial makeup, and jobs requiring less physical labor, may contribute to the decrease in the disability incidence rate.
  7. Increased earnings inequality and health inequality and rises in the full retirement age can cause a shift in disability claims and awards.
  8. The SSA reports, “Changes in the processing of claims, including more training for administrative law judges (ALJs) and improved case assignment and monitoring, may be contributing to the reduction in the number of appellate allowances and the number of outlierALJs—judges with allowance or denial rates far from the average.”
  9. When insured workers are ill-informed on SSDI program information, many are unknowingly leaving the workplace without claiming disability benefits.

To review the full SSA data report, visit here.

Will There Be an Expected Increase?

While the incidence has been on the recent decline, the SSA identified several factors contributing to the number of disabled workers who are or will soon be eligible for benefits, which may increase the number of active beneficiaries, including:

  • 55% of adult Social Security beneficiaries in 2018 were women and the increase in the percentage of women insured for disability as a result of the rise in women’s labor force participation;
  • The shift in the age composition of the workforce toward the disability-prone ages;
  • Business cycle effects;
  • Policy effects on disability determination or continuing disability reviews;
  • Growth in the fraction of workers at younger ages who come onto the disability rolls; and
  • Changes in duration on the disability rolls, whether from workers coming on at younger ages or from a decline in termination rates.”

As of September 2019, some 8.5 million people were receiving disabled-worker benefits from Social Security. In Kentucky, nearly 950,000 residents are receiving some Social Security. The statistic is likely to grow substantially from here on out as the number of Americans 65 and older will increase from approximately 49 million today to over 79 million by 2035.

How To Claim Your Social Security Benefits in Kentucky

Someone can apply to receive SSD benefits after diagnosed with a disabling condition that affects their ability to work, often leaving individuals and families without the financial support they need.

There are two basic rules for getting SSDI:

  1. You have to have worked long enough to be covered by SSDI.
  2. You must have a disability that meets Social Security’s standards.

For someone to qualify for disability benefits, a doctor will have determined that the disability is severe enough to prevent an applicant from working. The disability must be anticipated to last at least a year or could result in death. Even if you don’t meet the disability listing criteria, your lawyer can help determine if you might qualify based on other conditions related to your ability to work.

Our job is to protect the clients we serve, including the many who have underlying medical conditions and financial hardships related to their disability.
Please be assured that our team can accommodate our clients through phone calls and virtual meetings if meeting in person is not an option.

Western Kentucky Social Security Disability Lawyers — No Recovery, No Fee

The Social Security attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads law firm will make sure no steps are missed and that there are no legal or technical reasons that prevent your claim from being approved. We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no initial payment required, and we get paid when we win or settle your case. Call us at 888-709-9329 to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro lawyers.

Watch: How to File for Social Security Disability