According to report issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) – specifically, the OASDI Trustees Report – current projections estimate that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund will be completely depleted by the end of 2016. Essentially, this means that if no changes are made before then, scheduled Social Security Disability (SSD) benefit payments will drop by nearly 20 percent.
To put this in perspective, a 20 percent decrease in benefits would result in the average recipient having his or her benefits cut by more than $200 each month, based upon the most recent data reported by the SSA. Such a drop could be devastating, especially given that these benefits are the only source of income for many individuals.
Indeed, as the number of recipients has ballooned over the last 15 years, disabled individuals have become increasingly reliant upon SSD benefits to make ends meet. For instance, 8,942,584 workers received SSD benefit payments at the end of 2013, compared to only 4,879,455 at the end of 1999 – an increase of roughly 83 percent.
However, the growth in SSD recipients over the last several years is actually not much of a surprise. In fact, the Social Security Chief Actuary has long predicted this increase – an increase primarily attributed to two very important factors: the aging baby boomer population and the rise in the share of women in the workforce.
So, if this increase was expected, why was nothing done to prevent the SSDI trust fund from being depleted? Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be an easy answer to the question, which is especially concerning since baby boomers are only going to continue getting older – meaning the need for SSDI will likely increase in the years to come.
SSDI eligibility remains strict
One thing is for certain, the recent increase in SSD recipients is not due to the government simply rubber-stamping applicants. Indeed, eligibility requirements for SSD benefits continue to be quite strict. For example, most people are actually denied the first time they apply for disability benefits.
However, it is important for people to not get discouraged if their initial disability claim has been denied, particularly since they can appeal this decision. Often times, individuals seeking an appeal find it helpful to consult with an experienced SSD attorney who can help guide them though the complicated – and lengthy – process. A skilled attorney will not only be knowledgeable as to all relevant SSDI rules and regulations but will be able to explain these rules in a way that an applicant can understand.