Q. In the future, will older workers experience more years of disability?
A. If your question refers to workers receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, the numbers are expected to rise as the age for full retirement benefits rises. Disability Insurance ends at full retirement age at which time the monthly benefits the disabled individual receives are converted to retirement benefits. Full retirement age has risen from 65 to 66. After an 11-year pause, the full retirement age will rise from 66 to 67. When full retirement age reaches 67, disabled workers will have remained on the disability rolls up to two years longer than at present.
If your question refers to increased longevity and the impairments that frequently accompany old age, the answer is unclear. Many medical specialists predict medical breakthroughs in treatment of acute conditions will result in a greater percentage of older seniors experiencing disabling conditions. Others predict that advances in control of chronic diseases combined with improved lifestyles, such as better diets, regular exercise and a decrease in unhealthy behaviors, will enable more seniors to live more years without disability.