We have been tackling a few of myths surrounding disability benefits this week. On Wednesday, we discussed the claim that SSDI beneficiaries tend not to return to work, pointing out that the ones most able to recover from severe injuries (Americans under 40 and those without a severe or terminal condition) do frequently return to work within a few years of starting disability benefits.
Today we consider the often-made criticism that more Americans are going on disability each month than finding jobs. Statistically speaking, the criticism’s numbers are accurate. From April to June of this year, for example, the economy added 225,000 jobs, while Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries grew by 246,000. The problem, though, is that comparing the two is like comparing apples with oranges – the two numbers are not that directly related.
First there are the demographic reasons we have mentioned in past blog posts – more Americans are working today than ever (especially with gains by minorities and women) and Baby Boomers are getting older. These demographic changes have been in the works for the past 30-40 years; they did not come about suddenly with the Great Recession of 2008.
Second, the leading causes of disability claims are cancers and muscular and connective tissue disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, a fourth of all Social Security beneficiaries are veterans (over 9.4 million veterans receive benefits). It is a stretch to argue that arthritis sufferers, people with cancer and veterans with combat injuries are all trying to “milk the system,” as some claim disability benefits encourage people to do.
And finally, anyone who claims that it’s easy to file bogus disability applications should speak to an SSDI or SSI applicant about that. Typically, Social Security denies about two-thirds of applicants at the initial stage, and then about 85% at the next appellate level. The process takes at least a year normally and requires extensive medical records, and thousands of applicants die each year without benefits.
Because of the difficulties in receiving benefits, workers should apply for them as soon as they suffer an injury or medical condition and are unable to work. For more information on the benefits application process, call us to learn about working with one of our Tulsa Oklahoma Social Security disability attorneys.