SSA data shows decline in the number of Americans on disability

If you were to examine the number of Americans who have received Social Security disability benefits over the years, it's likely that you would start to notice a distinct trend: when the nation is experiencing troubled economic times, the number of people on the disability rolls increases, and when our nation is experiencing sustained growth, the number of people on the disability rolls decreases.

According to experts, this phenomenon has nothing to do with willingness to work, and everything to do with the strength of the labor market.

Specifically, those people with in-demand job skills who are suffering from less severe disabilities are often still be able to find accommodating employment, while those in the midst of seeking benefits or already receiving benefits might also be able to find suitable employment.  

As it turns out, recently released figures from the Social Security Administration suggest that we are currently in the middle of yet another cycle concerning disability benefits.

Disability rolls expanded significantly in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, holding steady at around a million people per year from 2009 to 2012. However, SSA figures show that these numbers finally fell back to pre-recession levels in 2014 with 811,000 people on the disability rolls.

Indeed, figures from the first three months of 2015 are already suggesting that this number could fall even further to around 750,000 people for the year.

While it's encouraging to see so many workers retain or rediscover their place in the workforce, experts indicate this drop in the disability rolls could also help ease some of the tension on Capitol Hill, such that lawmakers may be more amenable to different funding solutions for Social Security.

Furthermore, they point out that it provides the Federal Reserve with more evidence of labor market recovery and, by extension, justification for increasing interest rates.

It's important not to interpret this data as meaning that you somehow can't or shouldn't apply for disability benefits. Indeed, the program is in place to help those who simply cannot find gainful employment because of an existing physical or mental condition.