According to a January article in Forbes, 5.9 million people have been added to the Social Security Disability program (SSDI) since 2009 while only 2.5 million jobs were created during the same period. One in fourteen workers are now on the SSDI dole costing taxpayers $128.9 billion in 2011, and the program is carrying a deficit of $25.3 billion.
A recent investigation found that the federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled workers than it does on food stamps and welfare combined. Since disabled workers are not counted in unemployment figures, the full extent of the erosion of the American workforce ends up hidden from the public.
It should come as no surprise that the increasing number of disabled coincides with an increase in qualifying conditions for disability. Some of these conditions have been watered-down enough to include almost anyone willing to go through the process. The investigation found that 33.8% of the newly diagnosed disabled cited “back pain and other musculoskeletal problems”, difficult conditions to disprove.
Some qualifying mental conditions called “Affective Disorders” seem to rely on a self-diagnosis. These include such things as: decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbance, difficulties maintaining social functioning, and marked difficulties maintaining concentration. A doctor needs to sign off on these conditions but has to rely on the word of the patient for verification.
Obviously, the program is ripe for fraud and, consequently, it is rife with fraud. Getting around the system is easy and many alcoholics and drug addicts (conditions which do not qualify for SSDI) find a way in, as do many others. The possibility of receiving up to $1100 a month makes it attractive to those having menial, low paying jobs, especially since free Medicare comes as a bonus after two years on the disability rolls.
The American work ethic is dying and the “system” continues to assist in its death. What was once a ‘safety net’ has become ‘money for nothing’ because of progressive tendencies that put the individual above the common good. The continuous expansion of government assistance programs is occurring with no foresight or oversight and it needs to stop before the entire country becomes disabled.
David J. Hentosh