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Disability?

Has our business environment grown dramatically more dangerous during the recession?  Are more people becoming disabled because the workplace is less safe during the recession?  Or are people gaming the system and moving from unemployment to Social Security Disability when unemployment benefits run out?

Some have proposed that due to a bad economy, many have gone on to obtain Social Security Disability benefits once their unemployment benefits ran out during the last few years.  Looking at the statistics, one could conclude that was indeed the case – although the statistics are not absolutely conclusive:

  • The number of monthly applications for Social Security Disability benefits jumped from about 180,000 per month in 2008 to about 245,000 per month in 2011.  Most of the increase occurred from 2009 to 2011, representing a sharp uptick in growth.
  • The number of monthly awards also increased noticeably, but not as dramatically, from about 70,000 in 2008 to 90,000 in 2011.  In contrast, the number of awards was constant at 50,000 per month from 1993 through 2001; then it rose gradually in seven years to 70,000 by 2008.  So one could conclude that the increase subsequent to 2008 was unusually high.
  • The number of people on Social Security Disability has been increasing linearly from 3,500,000 in 1993 to 8,200,000 in 2011.  There is no unusual spike apparent from 2008 on.

It appears that some have tried to take advantage of the system.  Decide for yourself:
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibGraphs.html

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