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Latest SSDI statistics put Wisconsin in the middle of the pack

Each year, the Social Security Administration releases a detailed statistical report on who receives Social Security disability benefits, how many people applied and how many were approved, the average monthly benefits paid and other information for Congress. As part of that, the agency provides information on the percentage of the total population in each state receiving those benefits.

For Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries in 2012, the latest report, Wisconsin came in about average, with between 4 and 4.9 percent of the population receiving benefits. Wisconsin and other Midwest states including Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas made up a block of states in that category, and states with similar numbers were scattered around the country.

The states with the highest percentage of their populations receiving SSDI benefits were Maine, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. In each of those states, 7 percent or more of the total population was receiving SSDI. The states with the lowest percentages, Alaska and Hawaii, each reported less than 3 percent. Around 4.7 percent of the U.S. population as a whole received benefits last year.

The Social Security Administration reported that around 10.1 million people were receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, meaning people who had worked long enough to qualify for the program but who had become fully disabled from work for a year or more. 90 percent of the $10.9 billion in SSDI benefits paid went to those workers, with the remaining going to qualifying dependents. The average monthly benefit was $1,134.86.

Congress first began providing benefits for people with disabilities that keep them from any meaningful work on a long-term basis in 1956. Then as today, qualifying beneficiaries must be totally disabled for a year or more -- the program offers no benefits for short-term or partial disabilities. Today, however, people can move back to work in gradual steps without losing their benefits. In 1958, the program was expanded to provide benefits for some dependents of people unable to work due to disabilities, and it still does so today.

Based on these statistics, in 2012 the Social Security Disability Insurance program appears to have been living up to its original promise. Workers who pay into SSDI through the FICA tax qualify for SSDI benefits, which were put in place to protect them and their dependents should they become disabled and can’t work.

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