“What do you want to be when you grow up, Junior.”
“Well dad, I plan to live on the Social Security Disability Program.”
In 1960, some 455,000 workers were receiving disability payments. In 2011, the number was 8,600,000. In 1960, the percentage of the economically active 18-to-64 population receiving disability benefits was 0.65%. In 2010, it was 5.6%.
Things have changed. Americans have grown healthier, and significantly lower numbers die before 65 than was the case a half-century ago. Nevertheless, the disability rolls have ballooned.
One reason is that the government seems to have gotten more openhanded with those claiming vague ailments. Eberstadt points out that in 1960, only one-fifth of disability benefits went to those with “mood disorders” and “musculoskeletal” problems. In 2011, nearly half of those on disability voiced such complaints.
The cool thing about “mood disorders” and “musculoskeletal” problems is that nobody can prove whether you have these problems or not. They are undetectable. It is all based on claims of the recipient of disability recipient. Voilà! A new lifetime career!
Of course the Social Security Administration knows that a significant portion of claims of disability are fraudulent. They don’t really care. Food stamps aren’t really about food and SSDI isn’t really about disability. See Mr. Cloward and Ms. Piven, they will explain.