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The Social Security Disability program has seen significant growth in both costs and the number of beneficiaries in the last 25 years. Since 1990, the age of the working population being paid disability benefits has more than doubled—from about 1 in 40 individuals to about 1 in 20.

Government spending on the Social Security disability program has doubled since the year 2000.  Some of this growth is due to aging baby boomers filing for and receiving SSD benefits.  Some of the growth is due to a greater number of women becoming part of the workforce. Also, the Social Security program is growing because the retirement age has increased slightly over the past decade.

About one-third of the drop in labor force participation from 2007 to 2013 is due to 2.1 million more Americans going on Social Security Disability Insurance.  This may be because individuals turned to the program as early retirement and a long term unemployment program, particularly during the recession.

The problem with this is that when those with temporary disabilities succeed in getting on benefits, they tend to stay in the program. Subsequently, over time their work skills erode. As individuals age and fail to gain new skills, it also becomes more difficult for them to find a job.


How will our government address the impending SSA trust fund shortfall?

First, the SSA has already spent significant amounts of money attempting to root out fraud in the program (although there is very little evidence that they have done anything more than waste resources and time).

Second, they have also attempted to manipulate the administrative law system by reviewing every ALJ decision (both favorable and unfavorable) throughout the nation. This places a judge’s decision in the hands of a non-lawyer who reviews the case for conformity, rather than merit. There are many who question how a judge can objectively decide a case, when he or she is being forced to deny cases according to a conformity quota.

The SSA’s efforts are misplaced. The SSA should consider replacing permanent benefits with a period of disability that better reflects the individual’s medical condition. Also, short term benefits acknowledges the possibility of future work capacity.

Disability benefits, however,  should not be eliminated or replaced. Instead, Congress should acknowledge that many people have temporary disabilities. These people could return to work if given vocational rehabilitation and the incentive to do so.


If you work and pay taxes, then you earn coverage in the Social Security Disability program. However, you have to have enough work credits to earn SSD benefits. For example, if you work one month per year, you will not obtain enough work credits to qualify for benefits.

Qualifying for benefits requires 20 work quarters during the past 40 quarters prior to the onset of your disability. Another way to put this would be you need earn at least 20 quarters of coverage (5 years) within a 10 year period to qualify for SSD benefits.

During a quarter of coverage, an employee pays Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes. Each year has four quarters. So, you have 4 chances each year to obtain a quarter of coverage. In 2024, you must earn $1730 in one quarter to obtain a quarter of coverage. Similarly, in 2023, to obtain a quarter of coverage you needed to earn $1640.

Social Security Disability is an insurance program. One that you work for. You pay into this program over your working life. All workers who pay taxes pay into the program. Therefore, if you can no longer work and you apply for SSD benefits, then you are asking for your own money. The benefits are not welfare. Likewise, they are not a handout from the state or the federal government. It is money that you worked for and that belongs to you if you can no longer work due to a severe medical condition.

That is why the government should not eliminate the disability program. The program belongs to the workers who pay, through their work and taxes, for the benefits. You can find out if you qualify for SSD benefits by creating your account on Social Security’s website.


Cannon Disability specializes in winning Social Security Disability benefits. For the past 30 years, our legal team has focused exclusively on SSDI and SSI benefits. Our main office is in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, we also practice in Nevada, Idaho, and California. We have lawyers that are admitted to the bar in all of these states.

Because we have been in business for so long, we have extensive experience. We have won over 20,000 SSD cases for our clients. We can help you win your benefits too. However, it is important to remember that winning Social Security benefits is a team effort. Our legal team cannot prepare your case without your help.

For example, we don’t automatically have access to your medical records. You need to provide us with that information and then give us permission to access your records. We also can’t fill out Social Security forms for you. Because we don’t know how your pain effects you. Also, we don’t know how your mental condition may keep you from being a reliable employee. That is why we say that hiring us is hiring a legal team. One you can count on. We can help you fill out forms and file your application.  Contact Cannon Disability Law today for a free review of your SSD benefits.

future of social security benefits

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