By Jeff Ciegel, Attorney
While working as a disability lawyer in St. Louis, MO, I recently came across an article on the NOSSCR website discussing some new data released by Social Security. The article is titled “Newly Released Data Show Continued Slowdown in Growth of Social Security Disability Insurance” and discussed how the overall growth of the SSDI program has declined for the second year in a row. Most people I’m guessing would be surprised to learn that the program is not growing, but actually shrinking. Everything that has been published lately on television and through individuals with a seemingly personal vendetta against the disability programs would suggest that the program is wildly abused and out of control. The reality of the situation could not be further from the truth. Since these statistics and data do not make for a catchy news story or reelection platform it’s highly unlikely any of this will make the national or even regional news.
The article states that as projected by Social Security’s actuaries, the number of disabled workers approved for benefits in 2012 dropped by 38,000 compared to 2011, which had also marked a decline of 28,000 compared to 2010. SSA’s actuaries project that growth in the number of new beneficiaries will continue to decline in coming years. This data supports what the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities has outlined in their “Just the Facts on Social Security’s Disability Programs” sheet. This sheet gives a straightforward and mathematically based look at the disability program. Most people would probably be surprised to learn that the average SSDI benefit for disabled work is around $1130 a month and the average SSI benefit is around $509 a month (which is half the federal poverty level and amounts to less than $17 a day). No one is getting rich off of collecting these benefits. They are simply trying to survive. Furthermore, the article states that fewer than 4 in 10 people are approved for disability after all stages of appeal.
Based on these findings, don’t be quick to agree with what you hear on TV about the blatant waste of the disability program. The benefits aren’t extreme and it is very difficult to be approved for benefits. This program is a vital safety net for people living in the United States. If you are in need a disability attorney or just would like a consultation to see if you have a case for benefits please do not hesitate to give Parmele Law Firm a call if you are living in Missouri or Illinois at and we would be happy to speak with you.