In April the trustees of Social Security and Medicare announced that beneficiaries of those programs face a cut in their benefits of about 25 percent by 2033 if Congress does nothing. But buried in their report was their estimate that beneficiaries receiving disability benefits under Social Security, known as the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI), will see their checks reduced much sooner — by 21 percent within four years — because of burgeoning disability claims.
Pamela Villarreal, writing for the National Center for Policy Analysis, explained that a number of factors are behind the explosion in disability claims – nearly 1 million in just the last three years — including the broadening of the definition of “disability,” the expiration of unemployment benefits, the impact of the Great Recession on the jobs market, the lack of accountability by the Social Security Administration, malingering by the program’s recipients, and the unwillingness of Congress to face reality.
Since the mid-1950s, the program has expanded and now covers workers under the age of 50, disabled spouses of deceased workers and disabled children who were never able to work.
Disability now includes mental impairments as well as physical ones. But even with better treatments … few people ever leave the rolls, except through retirement.
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