Excellent article about relationship between the economy and disability program

A recent NPR article details the relationship between the economy and social security disability program.  For the first time in decades, the disability applications are dropping.  The article notes this is due to the extremely strong economy, which requires a tremendous amount of workers to fill the vacant jobs.

When the economy is weak, employers need less workers, and employers will choose employers who are able to work full time and not require accommodations.  When the economy is strong, employers need any and all labor and will therefore make accommodations to a disabled worker in order to fill the position.

The other factor in the declining application numbers is related to the baby boomers, a massive demographic bump, who are aging out of the SSDI/SSI programs and entering the retirement programs.  When a person is over a certain age, such as 65, they are entitled to full retirement, and no longer eligible for social security disability insurance.

The impact of the declining application rate is a decrease in the amount of time required to process a claim for benefits.  Claims are moving faster than even at the hearing level.  In Denver, Colorado the time between a request for hearing and the actual hearing in front of an administrative law judge is now less than 12 months.


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