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Don't get lost in the growing pile of SSD applications

The number of workers receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits has increased considerably in the past three years. A record 5.4 million people who can no longer work have enrolled in SSD. This growth has been accompanied by a reduction in SSD agency, straining an overburdened system even more.

What caused this growth in disability claims? Some attribute this growth to discouraged workers who remain unemployed. Others, however, cite the aging of the American workforce as the cause. Still others point to the almost universal employment of women, making them eligible for SSD benefits to an extent not possible even ten years ago.

Although all these factors contribute to the growth in SSD recipients, the most important reason for the increase is almost certainly the slow pace of the economic recovery. In bad economic times, people who were marginal employees because of their disabilities are laid off and find it impossible to obtain any other work. Their only option is SSD, and these formerly marginal workers make up a large proportion of the growing number of SSD recipients. In good times, when workers are scarce, employers may be forced to hire marginal workers because they are unable to find anyone else. But in a bad economy, employers cannot afford these employees who are less productive because of their disabilities.

Given the high volume of applicants - up 24 percent since 2008 - and the smaller staffing levels at the Social Security Administration, it is essential to have an advocate so that you do not get lost in the increasingly large backlog of applicants. At Binder & Binder®, the National Social Security Disability advocates, we help people who can no longer work because of disability or illness obtain the benefits they need and deserve.

Source:, "5.4 Million Join Disability Rolls Under Obama," by John Merline, Apr. 22, 2012.

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