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Latest statistics on Social Security disability benefits released

The Social Security Administration has a great many responsibilities: determining benefits under our nation’s Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income and retirement programs, handling appeals, paying out benefits and -- importantly -- keeping statistics. The agency just released the latest statistics on who received SSDI and SSI benefits, and the 2012 report revealed some noteworthy information about how the program is working.

Since its inception in the 1950s, Social Security disability has provided benefits to people with disabilities that keep them from meaningful work on a long-term basis, along with their dependents and surviving spouses, in many cases.

In 2012, more than 83 percent of SSD payments went to people with disabilities, with the remaining portion going to non-disabled dependents. Of those in current-payment status in Dec. 2012, 87.5 percent were disabled workers, 10 percent were disabled adult children, and 2.5 percent were disabled widows and widowers.

All in all, SSD payments in 2012 totaled $10.9 billion, with monthly SSDI benefits averaging $1,134.86. Men were about 10-percent more likely to be receiving disability benefits than women, and their average monthly SSDI benefit was higher, presumably because their overall average income before becoming disabled was higher. The average monthly benefit for a woman was $992.98, while a man’s was $1,256.20.

If you’ve been following the news, it should come as no surprise that the number of workers with qualifying disabilities began to increase steadily in about 1990. As we discussed on this blog in April, the increase in SSD beneficiaries tracks closely to the aging workforce, which makes sense because older people are statistically much more likely to become disabled than younger ones.

Across the U.S., about 4.7 percent of the population was receiving SSD in 2012. The states with the highest numbers of beneficiaries were Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Maine, each with 7 percent of its total population or more receiving benefits. The states with the lowest percentages -- less than 3 percent, were Alaska and Hawaii. Georgia was about average, with between 4 and 4.9 percent receiving benefits.

These statistics provided to Congress on a regular basis so that lawmakers can understand who is benefitting from these programs, but every individual is different. If you need to apply for Social Security disability benefits, your local Social Security Administration office or an attorney can help you evaluate your own situation.

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