22, 1996, or who was living in the United States on August 22, 1996, and subsequently became blind or disabled (U.S. House of Representatives, 2000; SSA, 2001b). Legislative amendments in 2000 (P.L. 106-386) extended eligibility to noncitizens, regardless of their immigration status, as refugees if they are determined to be “victims” of “severe forms of trafficking in persons” (SSA, 2001b).

Age and Gender

The increases in applications and awards and a decrease in the number leaving the program have resulted in a dramatic growth in the number of beneficiaries on the rolls. This growth is due, at least in part, to an increase in the number of persons in the relatively younger ages entering the disability programs with fewer life-threatening impairments, resulting in increasing the duration of entitlement. As shown in Figure 2-3, the average age of persons awarded disability insurance benefits has been declining for both men and women, with a consequent increase in the duration of benefits. The average age of men awarded SSDI benefits declined from 54.5 in 1960 to 51.2 in 1980 and 49.6 in 2000, while the average age of women awarded SSDI benefits declined from 52.5 in 1960 to 51.1 in 1980 and 48.7 in 2000.

As seen in Table 2-4, in 1960 less than 1 percent of men and women who were awarded SSDI benefits were under 30 years of age, but by 2000, 6.8 percent of the men and 5.8 percent of the women were in this age range when awarded benefits. Similarly, the proportion of both men and women who were between 30 and 39 years of age when awarded benefits approximately doubled, while the proportion between ages 40 and 49 when awarded benefits also increased. In contrast, the proportion of men 50 to 64 years of age when awarded benefits decreased from about 75 percent in 1960 to nearly 57 percent in 2000; the proportion of women in this age group awarded benefits decreased from 70 percent in 1960 to almost 55 percent in 2000.

As increasing number of women have entered the labor force, the proportion of beneficiaries who are women has increased. Thus, in 1960, 78 percent of the 455,000 SSDI disabled worker beneficiaries were men and 22 percent were women, but by 2000, of the approximately 5 million SSDI disabled worker beneficiaries, the proportion who were men had declined to 56.6 percent and the proportion of women had increased to about 43 percent (SSA, 2001d).

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