Social Security Administration (SSA) Data for
Disability Insurance Applications Filed via the Internet
FY 2012 Onward
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The SSA is responsible for the Nation's two primary federal disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Our disability insurance workload has grown significantly and so has the use of the online disability application for SSDI benefits.
Our goal is to make it easier and faster for individuals to file for disability benefits via the internet from the comfort and convenience of their homes or offices. In fiscal year 2012 we expanded access to our internet services by launching additional Spanish language services, including a Spanish language online application for disability benefits. Also starting in fiscal year 2012, online disability applications can be filed by claimants outside of the United States.
The dataset includes monthly data at the national level for fiscal years 2012 onward for SSDI applications filed via the internet. It does not include applications filed online for SSI disability, which was first available to the public in 2017. It also includes SSDI applications submitted by all other channels (i.e., telephone, in person at a local SSA field office, or by mail) which could have been filed via the internet because they met the criteria for applying online.
Agency Program Description
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers several programs which provide benefits to those who are both disabled and meet other program eligibility requirements. The process for determining whether or not a claimant is disabled is complex. Depending upon a particular claim, the SSA might evaluate, among other factors, medical evidence establishing a disabling condition, medical and vocational evidence determining the capacity for work that might remain, the availability of possibly suitable employment, and severity and length of disability. For SSA purposes a claimant is either found disabled or not disabled. The SSA awards disability benefits only for long term disability and not for partial or temporary disability. A description of SSA’s disability programs can be found at Benefits for People with Disabilities.
SSA administers two different programs which pay disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The disability standard for SSDI and SSI benefits are the same except for issues of blindness or SSI Disabled Child benefits (SSI DC). Eligibility for disability benefits for both programs administered by SSA have two sets of criteria, namely disability and non-disability criteria. A favorable finding is required for both disability and non-disability criteria in order for benefits to be awarded.
Pursuant to statute, claims for disability benefits are usually sent by the SSA to a state agency which, following SSA rules and guidelines, makes the determination for the SSA as to whether or not a claimant meets the disability criteria.
The state agencies’ primary responsibility is to make determinations for the SSA on the issue of disability for claims filed by residents of the state or similar entity. However, states with heavy workloads might transfer cases to other state agencies or to a federal component and states with available capacity may receive transferred cases from other state agencies.
The state agencies for Maine, New York, Michigan, Washington and Montana also process SSA disability claims for residents of Canada. In addition to the fifty states a disability unit exists in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The term 'state agency' applies to these additional entities as well. The SSA also refers to a state agency as a Disability Determination Service (DDS). Disability determinations for any other residents not mentioned are handled by a federal component.
Beyond the factor of disability, benefit eligibility and amount for SSDI depend primarily on the earnings of the person against which a claim is being made. In addition to being found disabled, benefit eligibility and amount for SSI benefits depend on income and resources available plus other factors such as residency and US citizenship status. While a state agency makes a determination concerning whether or not a claimant is disabled, the SSA makes a separate determination as to whether all applicable non-disability eligibility requirements have been met. Both determinations must be favorable in order for disability benefits to be awarded.
- A federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. Most years our fiscal year workload reports contain 52 weeks since we include only full weeks, rather than cut off in the middle of a week. Every few years the reporting period is 53 weeks when we apply the end of week cutoff. Fiscal Year 2016 is a 53-week year for our workload reports.
- We provide both counts since the 52-week data may be more appropriate for comparing 2016 to prior years that had 52-week reporting periods. This would be particularly relevant for looking at receipts and clearances, for example. The 53-week data may be more relevant for viewing the end of year status of workloads, especially pending cases, and it represents the efforts achieved with the entire year’s resources.
Data Collection Description
SSA’s Online Disability Benefit Application provides Internet front-end activity counts. When a disability application is filed via the Internet, an indicator is set in the record that indicates the information was received via the Internet. An SSA Claims Representative retrieves the online disability application and enters the information into SSA’s Modernized Claims System (MCS). When a disability application is filed via telephone, in person through a local SSA field office, or by mail, an SSA Claims Representative enters the information into SSA's MCS. Data from MCS is downloaded nightly to the Title II Operational Data Store, the SSA’s primary source of management information for claims process. Counts of disability application receipts are summarized to provide both total and Internet counts at the national level. Dates provided are based on the District Office Workload Report (DOWR) receipt date. DOWR is an integral part of the SSA’s field office work measurement system. DOWR data is used to provide weekly and/or monthly volume counts of workloads that represent the mission of the agency.
Data Dictionary (for all datasets)
Fiscal Year (FY): The 12-month period from October 1st through September 30th.
Month (by District Office Workload Reporting (DOWR) Month): The month the data was produced. DOWR reporting months are administratively set reporting periods and do not necessarily correspond exactly to calendar months.
Total Initial Social Security Disability Insurance Applications: The number of disability insurance applications submitted by telephone, in person through a local SSA field office, or by mail which could have been filed via the internet because they met the criteria for applying online. SSI disability applications are not included in these counts.
Internet Initial Social Security Disability Insurance Applications: The number of disability insurance applications filed via the internet. SSI disability applications filed online are not included in these counts.
Percentage Filed via the Internet: Field D divided by Field C expressed as a percentage. This is the percentage of Social Security Disability Insurance Applications filed via the internet.
Comments: Information about a particular month's data collection and/or reporting.