Reasons for Unprecedented Backlogs

The number of workers qualifying for disability has doubled in recent years, despite the fact that Americans today are healthier and living longer than previous generations. In 1985, 3.9 million Americans received a Social Security disability benefit; 20 years later the number exceeded 8 million. The system is now so backlogged that in some parts of the country, like Charlotte, workers can wait two to three years for a disability benefit hearing.

The Charlotte backlog may stem in part from plant and mill closings and severe staffing shortages at the Charlotte disability court, but the primary reason for the caseload increase is the huge number of baby boomers reaching their 50s and 60s. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, least of all the Social Security Administration or Congress.
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