Disability Insurance Overwhelmed, Increasingly Scammed
December 5, 2012 by Sam Rolley
Politicians use one word endlessly throughout campaign seasons: jobs. But they don’t often talk about the millions of Americans who seemingly don’t want them, including the millions opting to go on disability.
Social Security’s disability insurance program has long been a godsend for Americans injured or unable to work because of physical impairments. Evidence shows, however, that a growing number of people are opting for disabled to be their career of choice by defrauding the system.
An aging Nation and tough economic times have seen disability claims skyrocket so much that the Social Security Administration can’t keep up. This is creating a backlog of applicants and making it hard for many who are legitimately disabled to get disability benefits.
Meanwhile, the opportunity to make an average of $1,100 a month without having to work has become increasingly popular with scammers. The system is being defrauded by recipients who often claim to have ailments that are both chronic and nearly impossible for healthcare professionals to refute.
Despite increasing quality of healthcare in the United States over the past several decades along with special provisions put in place in the 1990s via the Americans With Disabilities Act (both of which make it easier for those with disabilities to lead normal lives), more and more people are claiming to be too disabled to work.
Conservative columnist Michael Barone points out in a recent piece that about half as many people entered the disability rolls (4.1 million) as did the workforce (8.8 million) in the years between 1996 and 2011. He also notes that the age of the average disability recipient is dropping, with more than 15 percent of those on disability younger than 50 in 2011.
Since 2009, the disability program has paid out more than it collects. In 2011, total outlays were $128 billion, while the program’s revenues totaled only about $94 billion. Disability insurance is expected to be the first portion of the larger Social Security system to reach total insolvency.