In contrast to allegations from some Congressional representatives that Social Security Disability recipients are unnecessarily dependent on government assistance, a new report shows that enrollment is up strictly because of demographics. Many members of Congress have been suggesting that the federal government is developing a “slave” mentality among groups who receive the benefits and the Congressional Budget Office says that is just not true.
The rise in disabled beneficiaries to 8.3 million in 2011 is attributable to an aging population, as well as the addition of more women to the workplace and a dismal job economy. The biggest surges in the disabled population have come from Baby Boomers, who are accessing the government resources more as they age. From 1996 to 2009, when most Boomers were entering their 50s, the rate of disabled benefits given to workers 45 and older increased by nearly 10 percent, according to the report.
In essence, the presence of the Boomers was enough to cause the rise in disability insurance claims, even if no other factors were in play. That means that older workers would have been accessing these resources even without the dwindling economy.
In addition, the report says that SSD increases can be attributed to the growth in the population of female workers, which provides a larger pool of employees who can receive disability payments. Changes in disability definitions during the Reagan administration also raised the number of eligible recipients.
Despite this evidence, many pundits are claiming that Americans are increasingly becoming dependent upon the federal government. Conservative spokespeople have said that filing for disability is so easy that almost anyone can become an SSD beneficiary.
That may come as news to people who have applied for SSD have been consistently denied benefits. Those with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes chronic pain, are often told that they can handle low-impact work, despite the debilitating nature of the disease.
The fact is that more people need these benefits now because they are aging, injured and unable to find suitable work in the tough economic times.
Source: Huffington Post, “Social Security Disability enrollment rising due to demographic trends, not Obama ‘slavery’ plot: CBO,” Arthur Delaney & Michael McAuliff, July 17, 2012