We Need More Work Incentives!
Eduardo Porter has a piece in the Business section of the New York Times under the title of Disability Insurance Causes Pain. Here are a few phrases and sentences to give you an idea of what the piece is about:
- Disability insurance takes too many workers out of the job market prematurely ... slows economic growth ...
- Some of its growth reflects changes in the population: we are growing older and becoming fragile with age. Similarly, disability rates among women [are rising because they are a larger part of the work force] ...But these factors account for only a small share of the growing cost.
- “The health of nonelderly Americans is improving consistently, and we have more technology to help people at work,” observed Mark Duggan, an economist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
- [B]reakneck growth in the disability program ...
- [D]isability becomes an attractive alternative for unemployed people ...
- The disability insurance program was meant for another era, in the late 1950s when working conditions were tougher and disabilities were expected to put an end to someone’s working life.
- In the mid-1980s, however, Congress softened the criteria. ... required to give more weight to subjective factors like pain ... opened the door for applicants who reported mental ailments like anxiety, or back pain and other muscular problems ...
- Collecting disability became even easier as rejected applicants were allowed to appeal before an administrative judge without anyone from Social Security present to defend its decision.
- [T]he disability program suffers from artificial woes that can be corrected. Fixing the system requires providing incentives to enable disabled workers to continue working if they can.
- Work Not Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
- Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA)
- Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE)
- Trial Work Period (TWP)
- Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE)
- Expedited Reinstatement (EXR)
All we need is just one more work incentive program and those folks will be flying off the disability rolls and back to work. That's the bill of goods that people keep trying to sell. I think you can tell how well this works by the fact that Mr. Porter wants another work incentive program despite the number of work incentives that already exist. I think it's reasonable to surmise that Mr. Porter has no idea of the work incentives that already exist.
By the way, I notice that pain always seems subjective and meaningless when it's someone else's pain. When it's your pain, it's very real and very meaningful.