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Disability Decision Making: Data and Materials (Chartbook, 2nd edition)

April 27, 2006

Summary: The Social Security Advisory Board assembled this compendium of data and materials relating to the Social Security disability programs for its own use and for the benefit of policymakers and others interested in the programs.  Its contents include a discussion of some of the major issues associated with the disability programs, a description of how the current system operates and how it would be changed by regulations recently issued by the Social Security Administration, and a listing of major judicial and legislative events that have affected the program.  The greater part of the report, consists of approximately 70 charts designed to assist in the analysis of many of the issues that have been of concern to those who have studied these programs.  In summary, the charts show: (1) variations over time in applications, awards, and terminations; changes in the number and characteristics of beneficiaries and in disability prevalence; (3) variations in State agency decision making and administrative arrangements, and (4) trends in the appeals process at the hearings level and above.

This report updates a similar report issued by the Board in January 2001.  This revised edition of the Board’s report is intended to provide context for the Board and policymakers in observing the implementation of the major changes being undertaken by the Social Security Administration and in assessing the extent to which they address the issues surrounding the existing program.  

The Board has issued a number of reports pointing to the need for fundamental changes in the disability programs.  In October 2003, it issued The Social Security Definition of Disability, which can also be downloaded or ordered from this website. A forum to discuss the issues raised in that report was convened by the Board in April of 2004.  The Board is continuing its work on these programs with a study of how the programs could be better designed to encourage work.