According to preliminary statistics released by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the total number of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) went down by more than 10% in 2020, compared to the previous year. This substantial decrease in applications for disability benefits seems to have coincided with the onset of the coronavirus epidemic. In addition, the total number of people receiving SSDI or SSI benefits went down, while the number of benefit terminations went up.
Looking at the Statistics
Overall, the number of field office receipts for SSA disability applications went down from 2,015,182 applications in 2019 to 1,838,893 applications in 2020. This was an overall drop in disability applications of 10.46%, the largest decline in disability applications since 2013. Of those applications that were submitted, 1,226,236 applications were forwarded to Disability Determination Services, a drop of about 6.4% compared to the previous year.
Likewise, there was a drop in the number of applications that were accepted, going down from 723,858 in 2019 to 648,121 in 2020. This is an overall decline of about 11.6% from the previous year. At the same time, the number of disability terminations in 2020 went up by about 1.84%, which includes terminations due to no longer being disabled, no longer qualifying for disability benefits, or passing away.
Why Did The Number of Applications Drop So Much?
The most likely reason for the drop in applications throughout 2020 is the simple fact that SSA offices were closed to the public for several months throughout the pandemic. This hampered the ability for people to apply for disability benefits, and slowed down the processing of any applications that were being processed when those offices were shut down. This is borne out by the fact that disability applications went up in the first quarter of 2020, but saw a substantial decline during the rest of the year.
Another possible explanation may be related to more people working from home compared to previous years. Without the increased risk that comes from commuting, along with the risk of workplace accidents, fewer people have suffered injuries that might require applying for disability. An increased focus on preventing illness during COVID-19 may also have prevented people from catching other infections that might cause a disability. As the SSA and other government agencies return to a semblance of normal operations, these trends may start to reverse themselves.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.