The Decline in Earnings Prior to Filing a Disability Application

Posted February 10, 2017 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® Jackson Costa of the Office of Program Development, Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration performed a study published in the Social Security Bulletin on the decline in earnings prior to claims for Disability Insurance benefits.

Data from the 2014 Disability Research File show that the earnings of individuals who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits decline rapidly in the years prior to application. Mr. Costa’s article presents statistics on the average “decline period”—the time from the year of maximum earnings to the year of application—by the general and specific primary diagnosis, sex, and age of individuals who filed applications during 2004–2013. On average, denied-claim applicants experience a longer decline period than do allowed-claim applicants, and those with mental impairments experience a shorter decline period than do those with physical impairments. Differences across general diagnosis groups are typically small; differences between certain specific diagnosis subgroups are greater. Men experienced longer decline periods than did women, and older applicants experienced longer decline periods than did younger ones.Untitled-2-01

The study demonstrates something that’s obvious at ground level — for most disabled people, disability isn’t something that happens all at once. It comes on over the course of years. Often it’s more than one thing that disables a person. People try hard to fight off disability. Often they wait a considerable period of time after stopping work altogether before filing a claim. People don’t like to have to concede that they’re disabled.

Full study:

By: Tom Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®