Chicago Social SecurityAs new medical technologies make their way into widespread use, people are living longer.Unfortunately, many who benefit from
these advances find themselves dealing with a long-term disability,often before retirement age. This could lead to changes in policy and the way that social security disability programs work.

Evidence of Increased Disability Rates

One study by the University of Southern California examined life expectancy trends, along with disability rates over a 40 year period. The study concluded that while Americans are living longer, they are not necessarily in good health.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, many are dealing with long-term disabilities that keep them from working as long as they’d like to, or enjoying a good quality of life. During the 40 year test period, the average life span for males increased by over 9 years, and the years spent with a disability increased by over 4 years. The life span for females increased by a little over 6 years, with nearly 4 more years disabled.

Various factors could be affecting this increased disability rate. For example, increased access to mental health care, more effective diagnostic procedures and changes in prescription drug use may all have an impact.

Changes to Social Security

These finding could have implications for future policy-making. There is already talk among Federal lawmakers about raising the retirement age for Social Security, and further reforms that could impact future applicants for Social Security disability programs could be on the horizon.

Concerns about the viability of Social Security have led many to assume that these benefits are simply not an option for them. For those living with a disability, Social Security disability programs are a way to stay afloat, when dealing with financial hardship. Changes to the program were made in late 2015, and additional changes are expected as lawmakers push for reform.

Though Social Security is a Federal program, there is some local administration. In Illinois, the Department of Human Services Disability Determination Services takes on the responsibility for determining the eligibility of residents to receive benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. Chicago Social Security applicants often work with attorneys during the determination process. Eligibility for Social Security benefits is based on medical evidence, and whether a disability is expected to last for a minimum of one year or for the remainder of an individual’s life.