Is disability becoming harder to get even as more people qualify for it?

Many people in Oakland County, Michigan, have heard that getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits can be difficult. At the same time, it is common knowledge that the number of people receiving disability benefits has increased in recent years, as the baby boomers have grown older.

Many people who are applying for disability benefits or planning on applying soon don’t have a good idea of what kind of outcome to expect. It’s important for these people to recognize that, although more people are now receiving benefits, qualifying is not necessarily becoming easier.

More Americans receive disability

There have been many recent reports suggesting that SSDI benefits or Supplemental Security Income are being awarded more frequently and perhaps even too easily. CBS News reported the following facts earlier this year:

  • Since 2007, claims have increased by 25 percent
  • The increase in disability benefit recipients over the last decade has been more than 3 million
  • 3.2 million people applied for SSDI or SSI in 2012 alone
  • 1.3 million benefits recipients are overdue for a review to make sure that they still are eligible for benefits

The Social Security Administration does report that more disability benefits were disbursed in 2012 than in previous years, with more than 8.8 million people receiving benefits. This might make applicants think that their chances of obtaining – and keeping – benefits are very high. However, many people have found that this is not at all the case.

Applicant approval rate dropping

The pattern of disability benefits disbursement is more complicated than a simple increase in recipients. According to the SSA, more people were terminated from the Social Security Disability program in 2012 than in any year since 1998. Additionally, just 34.74 percent of applicants were awarded benefits during 2012. In contrast, more than 50 percent of people who applied in 1998 were awarded benefits.

Therefore, while more people may be receiving benefits, the likelihood of being awarded benefits as an individual is not necessarily improving. In fact, with the exception of one year, the applicant approval rating has steadily decreased over the last 14 years. This is why it is important for individuals to consider working with a lawyer when applying for disability benefits.

Many people may believe that if they have a disability that clearly impedes them from working, they will have no trouble getting approved. In reality, the majority of disability claims are denied. Anyone whose application has been turned down can appeal the decision. However, this can be a lengthy process that does not offer the most favorable odds. If an appeal does prove necessary, legal advice can again be extremely beneficial.

If you or a loved one is preparing to apply for Social Security Disability, do not overestimate your likelihood of being approved. Take the time to speak with an attorney who can improve your chances of receiving the benefits that you need.