Even perilously liberal NPR took a look at the looming disaster of SS disability programs...
So: What will be done with the SS disability program, which will go broke by 2016? Nothing....Democrats need votes, dammit.
How can Dems resist a program that incentivizes a lifetime of dependency, and has parents making sure their kids fail, in order to keep a government check...reform? The Dems are the real "Party of No"...no reform....
Featured on NPR, journalist Chana Joffe-Walt's six-month investigation into America’s disability program found a record-high 14 million Americans receiving disability checks in a system rife with fraud and dependency-inducing abuse that costs taxpayers $260 billion a year—more than food stamps and welfare combined.
“Since the economy began its slow, slow recovery in late 2009, we’ve been averaging about 150,000 jobs created per month,” said Joffe-Walt in an Public Radio International (PRI) “This American Life” interview. “In that same period every month, almost 250,000 people have been applying for disability.”
Applications for disability rise and fall with the unemployment rate....
In some parts of the country, such as Hale County, Alabama, one out of every four working-age adults collects a disability check...
- As of 2011, 33.8% of newly diagnosed disabled workers cited “back pain and other musculoskeletal problems” as their reason for being unable to work. In 1961, the top reason for being disabled was “heart disease, stroke”
- Disabled workers do not get counted in the unemployment figures. If they did, the numbers would be far higher.
- Less than 1% of people who went on disability at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce
- The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program—which covers kids and adults—has exploded. SSI is now seven times larger than it was 30 years ago.
“That’s a kind of ugly secret of the American labor market,” said MIT economist David Autor. “Part of the reason our unemployment rates have been low, until recently, is that a lot of people who would have trouble finding jobs are on a different program.”
Joffe-Walt says disability has “become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.” The reporter notes that the disability program “wasn’t supposed to serve this purpose; it’s not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet.”
People who leave the workforce and go on disability qualify for Medicare, the government health care program that also covers the elderly. They also get disability payments from the government of about $13,000 a year. This isn't great. But if your alternative is a minimum wage job that will pay you at most $15,000 a year, and probably does not include health insurance, disability may be a better option.
But going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for.
According to Social Security chief actuary Steve Goss, disability insurance program reserves will run out of money in 2016.