Are SSDI and SSI Disability Rates Increasing in Arkansas and the United States?

It seems that when people hear that someone is on disability, a vast number of different reactions can occur. Some will people will be interested into the limitations caused by the impairment and ask the disabled individual if there is some way they can be of assistance. However others may feel that it is their duty to vet someone’s disability as part of a misguided notion to combat waste and abuse. This type of behavior can be particularly embarrassing for all parties involved. Furthermore, it is entirely unnecessary because disability benefits are never awarded on the basis of an applicant’s allegations alone.

People should never be ashamed or worried about applying for benefits for a legitimate and limiting injury or condition. In fact, there are a number of screens and means tests to ensure that only those individuals who qualify and meet Congress’ definition of “need” can receive these benefits. In short, individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are for people with serious medical conditions so don’t allow worry or anxiety to prevent you from applying for the benefits you or your family needs.

Incidences of Disability Peaked in the 1970s

If one were only to listen to media reports, one would be likely to believe the rates for SSDI and SSI benefits awards skyrocketed in recent years and especially following the Great Recession. This has lead some to conclude that the program was not being used by legitimately disabled people, but rather as a quasi-unemployment insurance by marginally disabled individuals. But in reality, at least one study found that this idea was without merit.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Liebman presented data that showed no increase in age-adjusted incidence over the past 20 years. In fact, Mr. Liebman’s study found that, for men, there was actually there was actually a minor decrease in age-adjusted disability incidence. While for woman there was a small “catch-up” increase, this increase was offset by the drop on the men’s side. That is, the incidence of disability in men has actually decreased over the past 20 years even in  light of a difficult economy, numerous financial downturns, and the current weak recovery.

According to government data, a researcher with the Economic Policy Institute found that disability incidence actually peaked in 1975 before many of the young baby boomers entered the workforce. At the time, the award rate was at seven new awards per 1000 insured participants. After 1975, cost containment measures that reduced cost-of-living allotments and required more frequent check-ups for continued disability resulted in a purge of the disability rolls. It was later found that many of these people purged from the rolls were removed improperly after only cursory review of their circumstances and impairments. Many of these individuals would have their benefits reinstated in the ensuing political backlash. These events resulted in a 10 year trend of increasing incidence of disability benefits. Furthermore, as baby boomers began to leave the workforce throughout the 2000s, increase continued until the 1975 peak was again achieved in 2010. The incidence then decreased from 2011 through 2013.

There Are Good Explanations for the Increase in Those Suffering From Musculoskeletal Disorders

Some claim that the increase in the number of claimants alleging “subjective” health conditions like musculoskeletal issues represents individuals who are trying to take advantage of the system. However there are good reasons for both the increases in the number of claims and the awards. The reasons behind an increased number of claims includes an again baby-boomer population, increased skeletal stress due to a greater incidence of obesity in the population, and a reduced ability to retire early before one’s health deteriorates to a point where work becomes impossible.

Reasons also exists as to why musculoskeletal complaints may be more commonly diagnosed and alleged. Today MRI testing presents objective medical evidence that simply was not available in the 1960s and 1970s. After the 1977 invention of the equipment and procedure, it would still take a number of years before the test became widespread. The increase in the use of medical imaging technologies coincides with greater understanding of internal injuries.

Severe Impairment and Unable to Work? Contact an Arkansas Social Security Attorney

All too often, people with legitimate impairments, injuries, and degenerative conditions fail to apply for benefits because they are worried being seen as fling an insufficient claim.  But remember, you have worked for years to qualify for SSDI benefits. Furthermore, it is the government’s job to screen out individuals – not the applicant’s.

If you have more questions, Fayetteville AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak, can help. Ken understands the concerns of people like you. He has worked to help Arkansans with SSDI and SSI for more than 20 years. To schedule a free and absolutely confidential consultation with a social security lawyer, call us at (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.