Baby Boomers Increase Number of SSDI Applications Many people filing for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, have discovered that there is quite a wait in the process. One of the factors in this lengthy process is the number of individuals filing for disability. Aging baby boomers are contributing significantly to the number of applications the Social Security Administration is receiving for disability benefits. There are strict requirements that must be met in order to receive disability benefits, but that is not deterring people from applying. According to SSA statistics, the number of applications has risen by nearly 30 percent over the past five years. In 2006, more than 2.1 million people applied for SSDI benefits and that number increased to nearly 3 million in 2011. In order to receive disability benefits, applicants must prove that they are suffering from a disability, illness, or other condition that causes them to be unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). They must prove that the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months, or is terminal. Even when an applicant meets the requirements, their application for SSDI benefits may be denied. In the past five years, the number of approved applications from the initial phase of the process decreased from 35 percent. The SSA applies SSDI program requirements to ensure that only those who truly need SSDI benefits receive them. This means that disability benefits are not easy to obtain. Despite the increase in applications, the average wait time for initial claims has shortened, albeit only by a few days, over the past five years. Initial claims now take, on average, 109 days to process, and appeals for a claim that reaches the hearing level typically takes about a year. Some people choose to hire a Social Security disability representative, either a lawyer or an advocacy firm, to help them navigate the SSDI application process. This is a wise decision as studies have shown that having representation can help the process move more quickly and helps the applicant to receive their much-needed benefits faster.