The Social Security Board of Trustees recently released their report for 2018. The report has few surprises for disability benefits attorneys–it predicts a 75-year deficit of 2.84% of payroll and that the trust fund will be depleted by 2034. However, the report released in June 2018 also estimates that disability rolls are dropping and will continue to decline in the future.
Some Americans argue that disability application numbers have increased in recent decades mainly because of fraud. However, there are several factors why the number of Social Security disability beneficiaries has increased over the last 35 years, unrelated to fraud. In 1984, new laws expanded the definition of disability, making more applicants eligible for disability payments. An aging population also resulted in higher disability rolls and an increase in disability payouts. Also, the increase in the number of females in the workforce raised the number of women who by virtue of their work history became eligible for benefits.
These factors converged to result in an explosion of disability beneficiary numbers. However, none of those factors seem to be active anymore. It’s very unlikely that the scope of the disability benefits program will be expanded any further. Therefore, it is safe to assume that disability rolls in the future will be lower, reducing the pressure on the program.