The problem

[T]he ticking time bomb of entitlement reform is Social Security’s Disability Insurance Fund…The number of people collecting disability benefits has soared, especially in recent years, to almost 11 million in June, up from 2.7 million in 1970. The 2012 price tag was $140 billion, up eightfold, adjusted for inflation, from 1970.

The cost

A new 50-year-old enrollee — the mean age of those who go on disability — will collect to age 66, at which time he or she will transfer to regular Social Security. The present value of disability-insurance benefits, plus Medicare costs, per new disabled worker is more than $300,000.

Some causes

More than 20 states today try to shift people from their welfare and Medicaid rolls onto disability insurance and Medicare, which are fully paid for by the federal government. Some unions help their members obtain disability insurance—for instance, when companies are downsizing and laying off workers.

Michael Boskin at the WSJ.

Comments (15)

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  1. Buster says:

    There was an Administrative Law judge in Kentucky that viewed disability insurance as a form of welfare for people with no abilities. He approved the applicants in something like 95% of his cases. After being profiled in the Wall Street Journal, he was dismissed from his job. He once was heard remarking that some of his fellow judges “act likes it’s their money” and some of the applicants have nothing else they can do.

    • JD says:

      I think that that attitude is much more common than you think, particularly on the Marxist-influenced left (let’s be real about it). I guarantee you that there are a significant number of people who have no problem with that idea.

      • Dewaine says:

        You’re right about a lot of people in this country, although I think that most people that fall into this category are well-meaning people that are simply unaware of the consequences of their actions. They don’t realize that money means something. They see all of us with money and a few without and say “we can just take some of ours and give it to them, then we’ll all have money!” Of course, they don’t realize that in freedom, money (and capital) go to where they are most highly valued (i.e. most productive, efficient) and that redistribution causes poverty.

        • Dewaine says:

          You are dead on about the Marxist-influence, though, when the word socialist is thrown around it isn’t a mistake. Many, many U.S. citizens buy into the class-warfare lie, yet have no idea where it comes from.

          • JD says:

            The philosophical evolution of this country is amazing. We have been ostensibly anti-communist socialist fascist, but those influences have been creeping in this country since at least the late 19th century. I don’t think people understand what they are supporting.

            • Dewaine says:

              And some think that being half-communist or half-fascist is optimal. I think that the most important thing is to educate people about why those ideas are fundamentally destructive as opposed to merely focusing on the end result of full-blown communism, socialism or fascism.

              • Sam says:

                “You are dead on about the Marxist-influence, though, when the word socialist is thrown around it isn’t a mistake. Many, many U.S. citizens buy into the class-warfare lie, yet have no idea where it comes from.”

                Dewaine: I don’t think you know much of what you’re espousing either with all due respect.

  2. Studebaker says:

    What I hate is the fact that parking lots are required to provide all the best spots up front as disabled parking. Just about every old person or obese person asks their doctor for a handicap placard. Whenever I want to park, I either see handicap spots setting empty, or I see perfectly able people getting out of their cars with the handicap placard. In most cases, the people parking in the handicapped spots are the ones who really need the exercise.

    • Dewaine says:

      That is definitely true. I don’t think that anybody is opposed to helping handicapped people, but the system is abused way too often. The idea of a federal mandate on providing disabled parking is ridiculous. Businesses will provide that parking based on their clientele. Notice how grocery stores now have reserved spots for expectant mothers? Now imagine if the government mandated that everywhere? It would ridiculous, just like it is for handicapped spaces. Why do there have to be handicap spaces at gyms? Isn’t that counter-productive?

      Don’t get me started on the government determining who is disabled and who is not…

  3. Bubba says:

    This is what the United States is coming to under the Democrats. Congress Passes Americans With No Abilities Act.

    • Dewaine says:

      It’s amazing how often the onion taps into reality through farce, possibly even unwittingly.

    • Sam says:

      The house is under Republican control. Your point? Politics on either side is broken for many reasons, but it’s to pinpoint at one “group” because it helps one think one understands the root of the problem better.

      • Dewaine says:

        I have to agree with this. The Republicans are often just as bad a the Democrats.

  4. Bob Hertz says:

    Cheating the federal government is an ugly thing, but we are still left with this question:

    What do we do with the millions of individuals who are not needed in the labor market?

    The WPA soaked up excess labor because there was a lot of shoveling dirt.
    World War II soaked up excess labor because of endless demand for weapons, endless cleaning of barracks etc, and the death of part of the work force every day.

    Without these devices, we do have a problem. See Martin Ford, a futurist, and his book Light at the End of The Tunnel.