Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Disability applications are down, but it's not just the economy

This article from the NY Times details how disability applications have come down markedly from their peak at the low point of the recession. It's fairly common knowledge that economic downturns in a locality, state, or even the nation can have a serious impact on the numbers of claims being filed. And this last financial crisis and recession bore that out.

However, there are other reasons why claims have declined. More people are coming of age for Social Security retirement. And getting disability may be getting harder for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons not cited in the article is the fact that many individuals--lawyers and non-lawyers, who represent disability claims have taken the approach of not accepting claims that involve SSI disability, or claims that involve children.

This seems particularly to be the approach of national firms and national non-attorney representation companies that cherry-pick cases to what may be an excessive degree.

Here's the link to the article: Disability Applications Plunge as the Economy Strengthens

From the article: "Of course, other factors have contributed to the decline in disability applications. As aging baby boomers receive Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare, fewer require disability benefits. People in the disability program receive an average of $1,200 a month and get health insurance through Medicare.

What’s more, with the expansion of Medicaid in 33 states and the District of Columbia as well as improved access to insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, many experts argue, fewer people see the disability program as a way to obtain health care.

Finally, the Social Security Administration has been making it harder to qualify for benefits, according to scholars and advocates.

In some cases, just applying has become more arduous, said T.J. Sutcliffe, senior director of income and housing policy at the Arc, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. Budget cuts have taken a toll, she said, with 67 Social Security field offices closing since 2010.

A 2017 study by Manasi Deshpande of the University of Chicago and Yue Li of the State University of New York at Albany found that “field office closings lead to large and persistent reductions in the number of disability recipients.” Applicants with “moderately severe conditions, low education levels and low pre-application earnings” were hardest hit.

Applicants also face an increasingly uphill battle appealing rejections, with the administrative law judges who handle these cases taking a much more skeptical stance."

I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

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Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.

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