About 4.4 percent of working-age U.S. residents are getting Social Security disability benefits. (Photo: Allison Bell/LHP)

About 4.4 percent of all working-age U.S. residents are now getting Social Security Disability Insurance program benefits, up from 1.3 percent in 1970, according to analysts at the Congressional Budget Office.

The share of U.S. gross domestic product going to pay Social Security disability benefits increased to 0.8 percent in 2015, from less than 0.3 percent in 1970, analysts at the office report.

The office helps members of Congress monitor how current federal programs have worked. The office also produces forecasts showing how current programs and proposals might work in the future.

The analysts put Social Security disability program data in a discussion of what they think about the future of the program.

A year ago, government actuaries were predicting that the disability program would go broke sometime in late 2016. When members of Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, in October 2015, they pushed the projected Social Security disability program insolvency date back to 2018, by using some Social Security retirement income payroll tax revenue to shore up the disability program. 

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The Social Security disability program faces challenges partly because the percentage of people collecting benefits has increased, and partly because the average level of benefits has increased, the analysts say.

The average program beneficiary collected $12,200 benefits in 2015, up from an inflation-adjusted average of $5,100 in 1970.

“That growth resulted from changes in the formula used to compute benefits and increases in overall average earnings,” the analysts say.

See also:

Could employers help cut SSDI claims?

House panel blasts disability program claim review process

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