Study: Most On Disability Can Work, Don’t Want To


In 2009, the Social Security Administration (SSA) put together a study intended to gauge the character traits, behaviors and tendencies of people who were receiving Federal disability checks. Although the study was a matter of public record, it wasn’t intended to communicate its findings to the public — only to academics and policymakers.

The Washington Examiner recently analyzed the raw data from that study, going through the individual responses of 2,300 respondents — each of whom was on Federal disability in 2009.

What the newspaper found was at the same time both predictable and, in a disgusting way, shocking:

Recipients of federal disability checks often admit that they are capable of working but cannot or will not find a job, that those closest to them tell them they should be working, and that working to get off the disability rolls is not among their goals.

And even though many of the Nation’s 11 million SSDI (earned disability) enrollees, along with 7 million SSI (unearned disability) recipients, cite medical reasons for getting and remaining on disability, most of them reported that they had never received any kind of medical treatment for their stated illness and that they hadn’t been to a doctor for any reason related to their condition in more than a year.

Among many more details, the survey demonstrated:

  • 71 percent of SSDI recipients — those who’ve paid some money in to Social Security through payroll deductions from previous jobs — said they aren’t looking to return to work; 60 percent of SSI recipients — those who haven’t ever had a payroll deduction (and, in all likelihood, a job) — said they have no interest in finding work.
  • 75 percent of the SSDI recipients said they aren’t likely to go back to work within five years; 65 percent of the SSI recipients said the same thing.
  • 87 percent of SSDI recipients admitted they don’t want to look for employment because they don’t want to lose their disability check — not because of the disability that’s allegedly preventing them from working in the first place; 81 percent of SSI recipients said the same thing.
  • Of those few SSDI beneficiaries who did attempt to find a job while receiving disability benefits, 72 percent said they were paid under the table; 70 percent of SSI recipients said the same thing.

Have you ever known someone who’s milking the system in similar fashion? Most of us have witnessed it firsthand at least once in our working lives.

Are you legitimately disabled and have a story to share about freeloaders you’ve seen who are able to work, but continue to receive the same (or greater) benefits that you receive? Sound off in the comments.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.