This section presents projections of the numbers of persons receiving Federal SSI payments by category and age group.1 The SSI recipient categories of: (1) aged; or (2) blind or disabled identify the criteria under which the recipient established eligibility for SSI benefits. The following paragraphs discuss the recipient categories in more detail.
• Blind or disabled recipients establish their eligibility for SSI benefits by meeting the definition of blindness or disability and the applicable income and resource limits as well as any other SSI eligibility requirements. In December 2011, there were 6.9 million blind or disabled recipients of Federally-administered SSI payments. These recipients can fall into two subcategories based on age: blind or disabled adults (age 18 or older) and blind or disabled children (under age 18).
— Blind or disabled adults meet the definition of blindness or disability for individuals age 18 or older and SSI income and resource limits. Students age 18 to 21 must meet the adult definition of disability; they differ from other adults only in that they qualify for a special student earned income exclusion. When blind or disabled adult recipients reach age 65, we generally continue to classify them as blind or disabled adults (rather than aged). In December 2011, 5.7 million blind or disabled individuals age 18 or older received Federally-administered SSI payments, including 877 thousand disabled or blind recipients age 65 or older.
— Blind or disabled children meet the definition of blindness or disability for individuals under age 18. These children are subject to parent-to-child deeming until they reach the age of 18. At age 18 these individuals continue to be eligible for SSI if they meet the definition of blindness or disability for individuals age 18 or older as well as other eligibility criteria. We reclassify those who continue to be eligible after age 18 as blind or disabled adults. In December 2011, 1.3 million blind or disabled individuals under age 18 received Federally-administered SSI payments.Table IV.B1 presents historical and projected numbers of persons applying for SSI benefits by calendar year. Figure IV.B1 presents the same information as a graph. Experience over the past decade shows the number of applications growing fairly rapidly beginning in calendar year 2002, with the growth continuing through calendar year 2005. Two main factors contributed to this fairly rapid growth in applications: (1) the downturn in the economy that began early in 2001; and (2) implementation of the signature proxy process3 that SSA introduced in June 2004. The rate of growth in applications slowed significantly from 2005 to 2007, but started increasing again in 2008, largely due to the severe economic recession that began at the end of 2007 and continued into 2009. The level of applications continued to increase through 2010 and decreased only slightly in 2011, as the economy recovered slowly. We are projecting that applications will decline through 2018 as the economy slowly recovers and then will grow roughly in line with overall population growth.
a Based on data reported in the Integrated Workload Management System (formerly known as the District Office Workload Report).b “All” column estimated by the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Statistics using a 10-percent sample and published in the SSI Annual Statistical Report.Note: Totals do not necessarily equal the sums of rounded components. We estimate the historical split among age groups on a calendar year of age basis.
Figure IV.B1.—SSI Federally-Administered Applications by Age Group, Calendar Years 1975‑2040 As part of our adjudication of these applications, we evaluate levels of income and resources available to the applicants, as well as other eligibility factors including marital and citizenship status and living arrangements. In addition, well over 90 percent of the SSI applications are for disability benefits that require the Disability Determination Services to evaluate the alleged impairment. Applicants may appeal an unfavorable disability determination through several administrative levels of appeal. If an applicant exhausts all administrative levels of appeal, he or she may appeal to the Federal courts.4Table IV.B2 and figure IV.B2 present historical and projected numbers of persons who start receiving SSI payments as a result of this decision process. We count individuals as of the first month that they move into SSI payment status. For this reason, we refer to these individuals as “new recipients” rather than “awards.”5 From 2002 to 2004, growth in new recipients did not keep pace with the growth in applications, and from 2005 to 2007, the numbers of new recipients declined, even though the numbers of applications increased. Two main factors contributed to the slower growth for new recipients as compared to applications. First, over the period 2001 to 2006 the number of claims pending adjudication significantly increased. This growth was consistent with a longer lag time between application and the allowance decision. Second, after the introduction of the signature proxy process, criteria increased significantly, causing a permanent downward shift in the allowance rate. Starting in 2008, however, the numbers of new recipients increased substantially. This increase was likely attributable to: (1) the sharp increase in applications;
Table IV.B2.—SSI Federally-Administered New Recipients, Calendar Years 1974‑2036 c Totals for 1974 include recipients converted from previous State programs as well as new recipients to the SSI program during 1974.Note: Totals do not necessarily equal the sums of rounded components. We estimate the historical split among age groups on a calendar year of age basis.
Figure IV.B2.—SSI Federally-Administered New Recipients by Age Group, Calendar Years 1975‑2040 (2) improvements in claims processing; and (3) initiatives to accelerate the processing of cases pending adjudication. The numbers of new recipients declined slightly in 2011 similar to the change in applications. Consistent with the pattern of projected applications, we project the total number of new recipients to continue to decline from the peak in 2010, and then to reach a relative low point by 2018. Over the longer term, we project the number of new recipients to increase gradually in line with the projected growth in applications.Some persons receiving SSI benefits in a year will stop receiving payments during the year because of death or the loss of SSI eligibility. A recipient can lose eligibility in two ways: (1) a nonmedical redetermination; or (2) a continuing disability review (CDR).6 In a redetermination, we reexamine the recipient's nonmedical factors of eligibility, including income and resources. In a CDR, we determine whether the recipient continues to meet the Social Security Act's definition of disability. For example, disabled children, upon attainment of age 18, lose eligibility if they do not qualify for benefits under the disabled adult eligibility criteria. We refer to the net reduction in the number of SSI recipients in current-payment status during a period as the number of SSI terminations for that period.In the following tables, we have separated the numbers of persons moving out of payment status into terminations due to death (table IV.B3), as well as terminations for all other reasons (table IV.B4). Table IV.B5 and figure IV.B3 present historical and projected numbers of total terminations by calendar year. The actual number of terminations in 2011 increased by more than 2 percent over 2010. The increase in the number of Federally-administered terminations is due at least in part to an increase in the number of terminations for State recipients not receiving Federal benefits. The number of new SSI recipients concurrently eligible for OASDI disability benefits who received SSI benefits only temporarily during the 5-month DI waiting period contributed to the continuation through 2011 of the relatively high level of terminations.
Table IV.B3.—SSI Federally-Administered Terminations Due to Deatha, Calendar Years 1974‑2036