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Study echoes other findings: SSDI claimants don't return to work

A university researcher has released findings that confirm other reports we have shared with our La Crosse readers recently. The reports and the research and the rhetoric are all pointing in the same direction -- those on Social Security disability insurance benefits tend to stay on benefits until they retire.

The reasons for the increasing numbers on SSDI benefits are many and the issue is apparently gaining the attention of Congress. It was reported that $119 billion in benefits were doled out to 8.3 million disabled workers during 2011. That is six times as much many workers as were receiving SSDI benefits in 1970. The numbers are telling a story that is, so far, without a clear conclusion.

This most recent report confirms that the percentage of people who are returning back to work is dwindling. Since 1980 there has been a 42 percent decrease in the number of people who terminate their benefits and an 82 percent increase in people who are utilizing the benefits. As we have pointed out in previous posts, much of this is the baby boom effect. The big bulge of our population is nearing retirement age en masse and is running into the disabilities that occur naturally with age.

The report has this to say about the causes for the termination of benefits:

  • Approximately 52 percent simply move from SSDI to retirement benefits
  • About 36 percent die while receiving SSDI benefits
  • Just 6.1 percent returned to work
  • Slightly less than 4 percent terminated because they had a medical improvement

The author of the report makes an observation that SSDI program in some way encourages people to remain as beneficiaries until retirement age or death. The author also suggests that lax allowances for back pain issues are a reason for the increase in applicants and claims.

Whatever the reasons for the increase, it seems clear that Social Security, it all of its forms, has come under the national spotlight.

Source: George Mason University, "More Americans Dependent on Disability, Longer," Veronique de Rugy, Oct. 1, 2012

  • At our La Crosse law firm we represent individuals who wish to obtain Social Security Disability benefits as compensation for disabling for physical injuries, mental conditions or illnesses.

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