Digesting the SSA's Annual Report on the Disability Insurance Program

Submitted by dfm on Fri, 06/17/2016 - 14:56

Each year, the SSA publishes its “Annual Statistical Report on the Social Disability Insurance Program.” This report, usually released at the end of each calendar year, features a plethora of statistics that chronicle the amount of disability payments, analyze approval ratings, profile disability recipients, and more.

At almost 200 pages, this document can prove a bit overwhelming to digest, but its contents shed light on the state of the program as a whole and can help you identify strategies to position your business in the best possible manner for the upcoming years. Below are some of the highlights from last year’s report, which was released in November 2015.*

Beneficiaries

As of December 2014, 10,261,268 people were receiving Social Security disability benefits. 87.3% were disabled workers, 10.2% disabled adult children, and 2.5% disabled widow(er)s. This number is up 0.3% from the previous year.

The average age of a disabled-worker beneficiary was 53.

Beneficiaries by State

The states with the highest percentage of disabled beneficiaries were Alabama (8.5%), Arkansas (8.4%), Kentucky (8.2%), Maine (7.7%,) Mississippi (7.9%), and West Virginia (8.9%). Alaska and Hawaii had the lowest incidence of disabled beneficiaries, with both at less than 3% of the state population.

Benefit Amounts

The average monthly benefit amount was $1165.39 for disabled workers (up 1.7% from 2013), $314.53 for spouses of disabled workers (up 2.2% from 2013), $349.01 for children of disabled workers (up 2.2% from 2013), $724.07 for widow(er)s (up 1.0% from 2013), and $751.12 for adult children (up 2.2% from 2013).

The average monthly benefit for male disabled workers was $1290.20, compare to 1031.90 for women.

Diagnostic Groups

The SSA keeps statistics on the percentage allocation of the various disabilities of beneficiaries. Below are the reasons disabled workers received benefits in December 2014:

Disability Type Percentage of Beneficiaries
Musculoskeltal System/Connective Tissue 31.2%
Other Mental Disorders 26.9%
All Other Impairments 17.0%
Nervous System and Sense Organs 9.3%
Circulatory System 8.3%
Intellectual Disability 4.1%
Endocrine/nutritional/metabolic diseases 3.2%

Diseases of the musculoskeltal system and connective tissue constituted the primary reason disabled workers received benefits, followed by other mental disorders.

What This Means for Social Security Attorneys

In isolation, the immediate utility of these statistics may elude disability attorneys and advocates. However, analyzing the disabled beneficiaries data can offer a larger statistical picture of your clients and can be helpful when creating realistic expectations for your clients about the disability application and approval process. Lastly, when used in conjunction ODAR approval data, this information can help you identify geographic markets and conditions that stand the best chance for approval, whether you direct your own advertising or purchase Social Security disability leads.


*Statistics obtained from the SSA's Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2014, which can be found at www.ssa.gov.