TABLE 2-3 Disabled Workers: Number of SSDI Beneficiaries, Workers Insured in Event of Disability, and Beneficiaries per 1,000 Insured, 1960–2000

Year

No. of Beneficiaries (millions)

No. of Workers Insured (millions)

No. of Beneficiaries per 1,000 Insured

1960

0.455

48.5

9.38

1965

0.988

55.0

17.96

1970

1.493

74.5

20.04

1975

2.489

85.3

29.18

1980

2.857

100.3

28.48

1985

2.657

109.6

24.24

1990

3.012

120.1

25.08

1995

4.185

128.2

32.64

2000

5.042

138.7

36.35

 

SOURCE: SSA, 2001d.

lower death rates as a result of people living longer and a reduction in the average age of beneficiaries.

The change in the number of persons 18–64 awarded SSI disability benefits and the total number of recipients over time is similar to the dynamics observed in the SSDI program. The rapid increase in the total number of SSI participants in the early 1990s is a function of the growth in the number of disabled persons among SSI applicants and the poor economy as the 1990s began. The growth in the number of disabled adults is complicated and not fully understood. The reforms of the early 1980s and the outreach efforts in the 1980s also resulted in increases in the SSI program. With the strong economy of the late 1990s, a modest decline in SSI program participation was noted. However, because relatively few persons leave the SSI rolls, the total number of recipients has risen steadily since the 1980s, with the exception of a slight decline in the late 1990s.

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO RECENT GROWTH

As stated above, applications and awards for disability benefits in both the SSDI and the SSI programs increased significantly in 1989 and into the 1990s. The reasons for this recent increase are complex and are not fully understood. A combination of many factors may have contributed to this growth—some may be related to the broader socioeconomic and demographic environment and others may be associated with pro-



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