Eased restrictions and increased classifications within the SSDI program are making it possible for more Americans to receive the benefits they need to survive. Since changes were made in the early 1980’s, the program has expanded to include a number of disabling conditions that make it difficult for workers to stay in the workplace.
It is estimated that just over 1 in 4 workers aged 20 years-old will become disabled prior to their retirement. Today, nearly 37 million Americans are classified as being disabled. Over 50% of these are disabled during their working years. As of January 2013, roughly 8.8 million disabled wage earners were receiving Social Security Disability payments. This represented nearly 5% of all US workers.
As of 2011, the following were the reasons disabled workers filed for Social Security Disability Insurance:
- 33.8% filed for back pain or other musculoskeletal problems including Tension Neck Syndrome, Spinal Cord Injury, Thoracic Outlet Compression, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and Epicondylitis.
- 19.2% filed for mental illnesses or developmental disabilities including Depression, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and ADHD.
- 10.6% filed as the result of Heart Disease or Stroke.
- 9.2% filed as the result of a cancer diagnosis.
- 8.2% filed due to a neurological disorder such as Multiple Schlerosis or Parkinson’s Disease.
- 4.1% filed as the result of respiratory illnesses such as COPD or Asthma.
- 3.7% filed as the result of injuries sustained on the job.
- 3.4% filed for SSDI following complications from Diabetes.
- 7.7% filed for reasons other than those listed.
In addition to an increase in the number of applicants, the average monthly benefit continues to increase. In 1995, the average benefit workers received was $685. In 2016, that number has risen to $1,166 per applicant. In fact, the awards received by applicants has slowly increased every month for more than 20 years.
Factors that Social Security Disability lawyers in Chicago see that often increase the possibility of suffering a disabling injury include obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure, alcohol/substance abuse, and engagement in a high-risk profession. Moreover, women of all ages face a 24% risk of suffering a disabling injury during their career. Of these, 38% will experience an injury that lasts 5 years or longer. For men, the chance of suffering a disabling injury is 21%, and similarly, 38% have a chance the condition will last for 5 years or longer.