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The number of disability recipients is up

According to statistics, the number of people on Social Security benefits is on the rise. In 2007, approximately 8.9 million Americans were receiving income from Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Now, that number is 10.7 million.

This 20-percent increase in five years should have people in Ohio currently on benefits a little worried. Lawmakers will have to find ways to get more revenue so they don't cut benefits for people who truly need them.

Supported by a 0.9-percent tax on both employers and employees, the Social Security Disability trust fund may not last much longer. With more recipients, the fund will likely be exhausted faster, as Social Security has been operating on an annual deficit every year since 2005. Current estimates suggest that reserves will be gone by 2018.

Some are tying the sudden increase to the recession, suggesting that hard economic times have brought more disabled people -- who are unable to find work -- to finally accept benefits they have qualified for in the past. Despite their need, many of the initial applications filed by potential recipients are denied.

But the appeals phase has given many of those denied a bit of hope. Across the nation, administrative law judges hear appeals from applicants who have been denied by state agencies. While some judges deny nearly all of the cases they preside over, others approve at a similar rate.

For the time being, applicants must prove that they have a condition that makes them unable to work or unable to adjust to work. This condition must be expected to last a year or more. If you have a condition such as this -- and you haven't already applied -- you may want to do so now. It takes an average of about two years from the original application to the first time that benefits are issued.

Source: Livingston Daily, "U.S. disability claims swell in hard times," Feb. 6, 2012

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