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Over Ten Million People Receive Disability Benefits Despite Recent Decline in Numbers

For more than thirty years, the number of disabled individuals receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits increased exponentially. That number grew from 4,265,981 in 1990 to 6,673,362 in 2000. By December 2013, the number of people receiving disability benefits was at an all-time record high of 10,988,000. This dramatic increase has been attributed to the changing nature of the workforce during that time period, particularly the aging of the baby boomer generation which accounted for the largest increase in the number of workers in the last century.

In 2014, however, the trend has reversed slightly. In the past year, there has been a slight downward trend in the number of people receiving disability benefits, although the total still remains above ten million. The decline can be attributed in part to an improving economy, but the aging of the baby boomer generation into retirement is also a factor. As shown in the chart below, the total number of disabled workers (including spouses and children of disabled workers) receiving disability insurance payments from the Social Security Administration had dropped to 10,931,000 in December 2014. That number further declined to 10,916,000 in February 2015. The average monthly benefit, however, has increased from $996.09 in December 2013 to $1,017.30 in December 2015. The maximum disability benefit in 2015 is $2,663.

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