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The Dynamics of Disability: Measuring and Monitoring Disability for Social Security Programs
grammatic actions and court decisions. Many of the same factors have had a role in the programs’ growth since their inception and are contributing also to the recent growth of the disability programs of SSA. Some of these factors are discussed briefly below.
The number of persons who apply for and receive benefits is influenced by the size, composition, and characteristics of the potentially eligible population. The composition of the SSDI and SSI populations has changed dramatically since the programs’ inceptions. The size of the insured population for disability insurance has grown primarily because the working age population has grown (and an increasing number of women have entered the labor force). Between 1980 and 2000 the population of workers 20–64 years of age insured in the event of disability grew from 56.6 million to 71.6 million for men and from 37.4 million to 62.5 million for women (SSA, 2001d). The working age eligible population is projected to increase in the coming years as the baby boom generation ages and reaches 40–50 years of age, when chronic disease and disabilities are more likely to occur.
The composition of the SSI population also has undergone a fundamental change since the program began in 1974. In the early years, nearly 60 percent of the recipients were aged. Over the years, the number of aged beneficiaries has declined significantly until today they comprise about 30 percent of the SSI rolls—about 20 percent of these are eligible based on age and 11 percent on the basis of disability. Today about 80 percent of SSI recipients are eligible on the basis of disability; 56 percent of these are 18–64 years of age (SSA, 2001b).
The beneficiary population, especially in the SSI program, is diverse. Throughout the 1990s, the proportion of SSI awards each year for adults 18–64 who are noncitizens has ranged from 7 to 8 percent of the total (SSA, 2001b). The largest numbers come from Viet Nam, Mexico, and Cuba. Many of them have limited or no work experience and limited English proficiency (SSA, 2000).
The law provides uniform standards for citizenship and residency. However under certain circumstances, “qualified aliens” are eligible for SSI (some permanently and others for up to seven years). To qualify for SSI, someone who is not a U.S. citizen must be a qualified alien and meet one of certain additional requirements such as: a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, a refugee, asylum seekers, or a person subjected to battery or extreme cruelty or whose child or parent has been subjected to such battery; or is a “qualified alien” who was lawfully residing in the United States and receiving SSI as of August