As of June 2016, there were about 10 million disabled people receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits. Stressing the importance of the national disability program, the Social Security Administration wrote in one of its publications that a 20 year old worker has a high chance (about 1 in 4) of becoming disabled before that person reaches his or her retirement age. A logical question is what causes a worker to become disabled?
The Social Security Administration complies all sorts of data and reports. Much of that data and many of the reports can be found on the Social Security Administration’s web site. One of those reports is the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. The latest report was for 2013. In that report, the Social Security Administration lists the medical diagnostic groups for the persons who are receiving disability benefits. In many cases, people who receive disability benefits have more than one medical problem which causes them to become disabled. With that in mind, the most frequent diagnostic group for disabled workers is the diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue. This category comprises 27.7 percent of the persons who currently receive Social Security disability benefits. In a way it makes sense that the predominant condition disabling workers is bone, muscle and tissue related. Physical jobs in particular cause wear and tear on our bodies. Even in less physical jobs that are mainly sit-down, impact back and leg muscles. Data independent of the Social Security Administration suggests that musculoskeletal disorders are the largest single cause of missed work. 26 percent of the men who receive benefits have musculoskeletal issues as their predominant condition while musculoskeletal issues comprise 29.4 percent for women. 45 percent of all persons whose predominant medical condition is in the general category of musculoskeletal issues are between the ages of 50-59.
The second most predominant medical condition which causes disability is the general category of mood disorders. This category include all types of depression and bipolar disorders. This medical condition comprises 14% percent of the persons who receive disability benefits. In a way, this makes sense as well. According to recent a statistic, about 20,900,000 people over the age of 18 in the Untied States have been diagnosed with a mood disorder. 10.3 percent of the men who receive disability benefits have mood disorders compared with 17.9 percent of women who have mood disorders and receive disability benefits. 39 percent of all persons whose predominant medical condition is in the general category of mood disorder are between the ages of 50-59.
The medical condition of “anxiety” is not specifically mentioned in the data. Anxiety is not technically considered a “mood disorder.” There is another category in the data called “other” under the broader category of “mental disorders” which may include anxiety. This percentage is 3.8.
The categories with the least number of people being found disabled is tied at .1 percent each: “developmental disorders” and “childhood and adolescent disorders not otherwise classified.”