In short, they aren't skyrocketing. The perception that government has run amuck is not always true. The number of people on disability and the rate of awards for disability are in decline. Please see the chart below. Note: most of the information presented below comes from the "Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2017".
The chart above shows the total number of people on disability. Looking at the data, the peak occurred in 2013. The peak for workers only happened in 2014. The downward trend is likely to continue. Why, prior to the peak, did disability rates rise so much? The increase is mostly attributable to the increase of women in the workforce and aging baby boomers and the general increase in population.
It might appear to be a steep increase. It is helpful to put it in perspective. The following chart has been added. It shows that the rate of increase of social security retirees is about the same as the increase in those on disability between the late 80s and about 2013, after which disability beneficiaries started to decrease. After putting it in perspective, it is clear that the increase in disability beneficiaries was nothing abnormal or a result in changes in the law or administrations making it easier to get disability.
Here is a look at the age of new applicants from the Council for Disability Awareness:
Some might have thought that the average age was decreasing. That is not true. Perhaps we are living healthier lives.
Looking at the chart below, the peak number of applications and awards, occurred in 2011. The number of awards seemed to level out in 2017, even though applications are in decline. It should be noted that not only have applications declined, but the termination of benefits are also on the increase.
What is the typical profile of someone on disability? The Social Security Administration (SSA) answers this question in the summary below.
Although the average age is 55, the peak number of those on disability is between 60-64. It has been suggested that disability has nothing to do with age. From the chart below, one can see that it is indeed age dependent. Naturally, we have more health issues as we age.
The percentages of disability beneficiaries by state is shown below. The New England and Southeast have high percentages than the western half of the nation. The chart is a little deceptive. Overwhelmingly, California has the highest number of people on disability.
Here is the distribution of the number of disability recipients by state.
What do they suffer from? See the chart below. Overwhelmingly, for both men and women, the leading impairment is the musculoskeletal system and connective tissues. The next closest is mental disorders.
What do these mean? For that, we must consult the list of impairments. Rather than reprinting it here, I refer you to the link. Below, I have included a list below from the Council for Disability Awareness. The list is in layman's terms and may be easier to follow.
How much do beneficiaries receive? We know the average figure from above, but that does not tell the entire story. See the chart below for a breakdown by age and sex.
It's not surprising that the older beneficiaries receive more. You might be surprised that men, particularly older men, receive higher benefits than women. Men tend to earn more and therefore receive a higher benefit. Older men have generally participated longer than women.
Here is a look at the distribution of payouts by amount. Please see the table below.
In the future, I hope to write about the murky world of employment, short-term disability, long-term disability, workman's comp, and SSA disability. It's events that not many consider until it happens.