Some Disorders More Common for SSA Disability Recipients

Michigan residents apply for and receive disability benefits for a wide variety of reasons. Whether for heart disease, cancer or a brain injury, Michiganders with any of these ailments may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA.)

Interestingly, however, studies conducted by the Urban Institute indicate that there are some disabilities that are more common among recipients than others. According to the Urban Institute, musculoskeletal disorders and mental disorders represent a significant proportion of qualifying disorders, at over 60 percent of beneficiaries claiming one of these disabilities.

In 2014, approximately 31.2 percent of SSD beneficiaries reported musculoskeletal or connective tissue diseases. This is an increase from the 20 percent of beneficiaries indicating the same conditions in 1996. 2014 is the first time that the percentage of musculoskeletal disorders has surpassed beneficiaries with mental disorders. In 2014, 31 percent of beneficiaries indicated mental disorders were at the root of their disabilities. This percentage is consistent with data from the past 16 years, over which time roughly 30 to 34 percent of beneficiaries indicated mental disorder disabilities.

Significantly, the Urban Institute has found that not many people leave the disability program. Once they meet SSA requirements for disability, beneficiaries are not likely to terminate their benefits. Recent data indicates that the termination rate is 87 per 1,000 existing beneficiaries. Termination may occur if a person no longer meets the necessary medical criteria for disability, if he or she dies, or if he or she reaches the full retirement age of 66, at which point a person may receive Social Security retirement benefits.

Though many beneficiaries may not leave the Social Security Disability Insurance program, it is not a stagnant program. It accommodates workers with disabilities, whether those disabilities are musculoskeletal, mental disorders, or one of many other disabling conditions.

Source:, “11 Charts about the Social Security Disability Insurance Program,” Jonathan Schwabish, Feb. 25, 2016