FIGURE 2-2 Number of SSI applications, awards, recipients, and terminations, aged 18–64 years, 1974–2000.

SOURCE: SSA, 2001b. 2001c.

Processing this large workload with limited staff resources led to administrative expediencies in the requirements for processing disability claims. Central Office reviews of DDS decisions for quality assurance fell from 100 percent to about 5 percent in 1972, and they were conducted after, rather than before, payment of benefits began. Most reviews were deferred, and only obvious decision errors were returned for correction.

The legislative changes, increased benefit levels, changes in program administration, and the economic downturn of the early 1970s probably contributed to the sharp increase in the disability incidence rate (number of new SSDI benefit awards per 1,000 workers insured in case of disability) from 4.8 in 1970 to a high of 7.1 in 1975 (Table 2-1). At the same time the termination rate (proportion of beneficiaries whose benefits were terminated) declined from 174 per 1,000 beneficiaries in 1970 to 132 per 1,000 in 1975 (Table 2-2). Terminations of SSDI benefits occur as a result of death, conversion of disability benefits to old age and survivor benefits upon attainment of normal retirement age (currently 65), or recovery (beneficiary no longer meets the standards used to define disability, either

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