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The Social Security disability statistics for 2016 Q1 have been released. This article breaks them down to show you what it means for your application.

Social Security Disability Statistics: 2016 Q1 Overview

The Social Security Administration (SSA) released their statistics for the 2016 Q1 overview. These statistics give current and future beneficiaries a good understanding of how Social Security disability benefits were distributed between January and March of 2016. Some of that statistics may surprise you about the program, especially when it come to the number of applicants who are actually attempting to collect monthly benefits.

2016 Q1 Overview: What Beneficiary Numbers Reveal

The 2016 Q1 overview showed that 8.8 million American collected disability benefits during that first quarter. This number is down by 20,842 from Q4 of 2015. This small downward trend is on par with what the program has seen over the past year. Though it may not seem very significant, it could indicate tighter restrictions on both the number of applicants being awarded benefits each quarter and the number of benefits that are being terminated. Here’s a chart that better illustrates what the past year looks like regarding SSD beneficiaries. On this graph, it’s easy to spot the small downward shifts within the program.

2016 Q1 Overview - Quarterly SSD Beneficiaries

Digging deeper into the 2016 Q1 overview stats, we see 575,078 disability applications submitted during that period. In looking at the program’s history, this number is significantly lower than the Q1 numbers over the past three years. In fact, in 2013, 105,214 more applicants submitted SSD applications than in 2015, indicating a huge drop in applications in a very short period. While no significant data can support why the drop occurred, possible theories could steam from medical advances or a shift in financial stability. In the chart below we’ve mapped out the past three years of applications submitted (shown on a quarterly basis) to see the trend. As you can see the numbers tend to shift up and down by each quarter, but as a whole, the number of applications is down significantly.

2016 Q1 Overview - Quarterly SSD Applicants, 2013-2016

What This Means for Your Claim

Worried about the program’s backlog? The drop in the number of disability applications could be a good sign. With 105,000+ fewer applications clogging the system than just three years ago, faster benefit approvals may be possible.

Even if you’re not ready to apply yet, this information is good to keep in your back pocket. The more you know about the program before you try and tackle it, the better your expectations will be.

What Can You Do

With fewer applications jamming up the system, this could be one of the best times to apply for disability benefits. Partnering up with a qualified disability advocate or attorney could also help in setting your claim up for success. A legal representative has experience in helping applicants just like you apply for the financial assistance that they deserve. They can help you collect proper medical documentation, communicate with the SSA on your behalf, and appeal your denial. The best part is most attorneys and advocates work on contingency. That means they charge $0 if the SSA doesn’t award you benefits.

If you’re ready to connect to a representative, you’re in luck. Just click on the button below and take our free benefits evaluation today and see if you may be qualified.

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Megan Kelly is a former blogger and copywriter for LeadingResponse.