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Aug 24, 2011

The Sky Isn't Falling

     Kathy Ruffing at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities gives a good antidote to the alarmist reports about the state of the Social Security Disability Trust Fund. Ruffing reminds us that money has been reallocated from one trust fund to another in the past and that this will happen again this time. 
     The reasons for the increase in the number of people drawing Social Security disability benefits are primarily the aging of the baby boom population, the increase in the number of women in the workforce and the increase in the full retirement age. 
     Ruffing's piece does include a chart showing an age and gender adjusted increase in the prevalence of disability over the last 15 years, although not a dramatic one. I have added the chart to the left. The chart is based upon a study done by Social Security's actuarial staff. The study includes some interesting projections on the prevalence of disability in the future. Basically, the actuaries have no clue. They think that the rate of people going on Social Security disability benefits could go up dramatically or down dramatically or not change all that much. They just can't say.

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  • 3 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Ruffing's piece does include a chart showing an age and gender adjusted increase in the prevalence of disability over the last 15 years, although not a dramatic one."

    HAHAHAHAHA...are you kidding? It shows an age and sex adjusted increase from 3.5 to 4.4 percent of the population. That is a 25% increase. In what world is a 25% increase NOT dramatic?

    That's a HUGE increase.

    10:51 AM, August 24, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Whether or not the prevalence of disability in the population overall has increased, the number of claims is certainly growing, as the backlog is increasing, rather than dropping. The goal was to reduce pending cases to 668,000 by the end of this fiscal year (September 30, 2011), but as of June 2011, pending was 746,712. up 7.5% from a year earlier.

    http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/ssa
    /259/

    6:16 PM, August 24, 2011  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    both comments above are misleading.

    relative increase is not as relevant as total increase. an increase from 0.001 widgets to 0.002 widgets is a "100% increase" relatively, but in real terms it is also only a 0.001 increase.

    as to the second example, SSA cannot stop hundreds of thousands of additional people from applying for benefits, therefore increasing the "backlog." 1 million people can apply for benefits tomorrow and that'd add 1 million people to the backlog. but if all their claims clear in a couple months, how is that a problem? the only thing SSA can control is how long an average person has to wait to get his/her claim adjudicated, and that is improving, regardless of how many people are on the backlog.

    1:40 AM, August 25, 2011  

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