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Uptick in disability benefit claims attributed to aging workforce

Social Security disability benefits are a safety net for individuals in Anaheim and across the nation who have been working but then suffered a severe injury or illness and now are unable to earn more than $1,130 monthly. These benefits help those in need make ends meet during a time when they are otherwise not able to support themselves financially. Back in 1990, less than 2.5 percent of Americans were receiving Social Security disability benefits. However, by 2015 the number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits rose to 5.2 percent.

According to Social Security's chief actuary, this growth can be attributed to changes in our nation's demographics. There are more older individuals in America's workforce, and they are more apt to become ill. Also, since more women have also joined America's workforce, there are more workers out there who may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Back in 1956, when the Social Security disability fund was established, there was a specific listing of medical conditions that would qualify a worker for benefits. This list was expanded in 1984. Moreover, the process for determining who qualifies for benefits is now more subjective -- determinations need to be made not only about a person's medical condition but also the person's inability to work. This can be difficult, however, for those who live in areas of the country where sedentary jobs are scarce.

In the end, according to economists the uptick in claims for Social Security disability benefits can be attributed to an aging workforce and a decline in job availability. However, this should not dissuade those who need benefits from applying for them. Those who do want to apply for Social Security disability benefits, but have questions about doing so, can consult with an attorney.

Source: Bloomberg, "Mapping the Growth of Disability Claims in America," Brendan Greeley, Dec. 16, 2016

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