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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs
TABLE 2-2 Disabled Workers: Number of SSDI Beneficiaries and Terminations and Termination Rate per 1,000 Beneficiaries, 1960–2000
No. of Beneficiaries (thousands)
No. of Terminations (thousands)
No. of Terminations per 1,000 Beneficiaries
SOURCE: SSA, 2001d.
because of medical recovery or return to work).3 More than half of the decline from 1970 to 1975 in termination rates was due to lower medical recovery rates.
Period of Retrenchment
The rapid growth in disability rolls during this period renewed past concerns about SSA’s ability to control program growth and the unpredictability of program expenditures. This situation led to legislative and administrative changes in the program in the late 1970s and early 1980s, slowing the increase in disability program growth.
The legislative amendments in 1977 reduced the income replacement rates in SSDI, particularly for younger beneficiaries. The 1980 amendments mandated reviews of 65 percent of allowed claims in the ensuing three years prior to the start of any payment. They also required a vastly increased process of review of the eligibility of existing disability beneficiaries. The 1980 amendments also limited the total amount of monthly Social Security benefits that could be paid to a disabled worker and his family by enacting replacement rate caps, further modified the calculation of benefits for younger disabled workers, and added work incentives. In 1981, Congress eliminated the minimum Social Security benefit for new beneficiaries (DHHS, 1992; Mashaw, 1997).
For a detailed discussion of the experience of disability benefit terminations, the reader is referred to Social Security Disability Insurance Program Worker Experience (SSA, 1999c).