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Social Security Disability: A look at recent national statistics

Because America is so vast and has such a large population, it is sometimes difficult to accurately analyze the workings of the federal government – particularly regarding spending on federal programs. Social Security Disability Insurance is a good example.

Approximately $140 billion is spent providing SSD benefits each year. How is this money allocated? How many Americans receive SSD benefits and how much do they receive? In today’s post, we’ll look at some of the latest national data.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of SSD recipients is currently around 10,981,423 people. This is down just slightly from December 2013 when the number of recipients was at its all-time high. Compared to a year ago, enrollment is up by nearly 41,500 recipients.

In light of the program’s overall size, fluctuations of tens of thousands of people are actually somewhat modest in scope. According to the WSJ article, enrollment in the SSDI program has seemingly reached plateau over the past year. This apparent leveling off is significant considering that the number of recipients has climbed steadily over much of the past decade, increasing by 42 percent since 2004.

So how are SSDI funds allocated? Although $140 billion a year is certainly a lot of money, it has to go a long way. Benefits for individuals currently average about $995.38 per month. For many beneficiaries, this is enough money to meet basic needs but not necessarily enough to live comfortably.

Unfortunately, qualifying for and receiving SSD benefits remains difficult. In 2013, approximately 2.6 million people went through the application process, but benefits were awarded to less than 885,000 applicants.

SSDI is a huge program with millions of enrollees and a stringent application process. As such, it is understandable for individuals to feel “lost in the shuffle,” so to speak. By hiring an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, you can make the process significantly easier and you can know that you are submitting the strongest possible application for benefits.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Has Social Security Disability Enrollment Hit Plateau?" Damian Paletta and Josh Zumbrun, April 16, 2014

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