Oct 21, 2011

Social Security Is Doomed, I Tell You, Doomed!

     From McClatchy:
The leading safety-net program for America's disabled workers is in a financial death spiral in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The sour economy, weak eligibility standards and a wave of aging baby boomers are driving an explosive increase in the number of injured workers who get disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance program.
At the current growth rate, the SSDI trust fund, which pays for benefits, won't have enough money to meet its obligations in 2018.
     And from The Atlantic:
One out of every five Social Security dollars is spent in the disability insurance program. The problem isn't so much that we've paying disabled people too much but that we're probably paying too many people who claim to be disabled. Since 1985, Social Security Disability applications have doubled as a share of the population. It is possible, but unlikely, that Ameica's disability population has doubled since the mid-1980s. The more reasonable explanation is that more disabled workers in tough times have figured out that they can get paid to not work.
     These articles goes on and on with endless quotes from the same right wing sources. I have seen other articles along the same lines. 
     Reporters are notorious copycats. They see an article in one newspaper or magazine that they find interesting. They find a way to redo that piece for their own newspaper. This may be all that is going on but my strong impression is that someone is deliberately planting these stories. There are too many statistics given. Reporters sometimes dig out statistics like these but not often. Usually when you see a statistical compilation, it was given to the reporter. Most likely this is coming from one of the Koch brothers financed "think tanks" in an effort to defame Social Security. It is a sign of just how much money that these "think tanks" have that they can go to these lengths to damage Social Security's image.


Anonymous said...

i don't think that the stat about doubling the "disabilty" rate since the 1980's is really attributable to a "right wing source[]" It's an indication that the rules for eligibility for disability benefits are too lax. You may not like the conclusion, but the stats don't lie.

Anonymous said...

I haven't looked at the stats, but I note the careful use of the phrase "Since 1985, Social Security Disability applications have doubled as a share of the population"

Applications filed are not the same as the number of people on the rolls. Perhaps that has doubled also, but if so, one would expect the reporter to have written that.

Anonymous said...

SSA hardly needs the "right-wing" press to damage its image -- just look at the 40,000 people erroneously declared dead each year, the multiple millions in incorrect payments, inadequate monitoring of rep payees, ALJs who have never met a claimant who was not disabled, and the general boondoogle that is the disability system.

Anyone involved with the disability system who is intellectually honest must admit that the disability system is broken and a high percentage of individuals are granted benefits who are not truly disabled under any rational analysis.

Anonymous said...

I was a 30 year SSA employee and have dealt with this disability mess the whole time. I honestly think that SSA is incapable of keeping up with the changing medical technology, the medical insurance changes, and the exploding population of baby boomers who will naturally swell the rolls of claimants.

The solution is to amend the Act to get the Feds out of the disability insurance business, with an accompanying bill to require temporary and/or long term disability insurance for all employees, part time or full time. DIB has become so out of control, with stupid work incentive and CDR processes (and the accompanying bureaucracy bloat those entail) along with a multiple year wait for a claimant to get a final decision.

I'm a progressive Democrat, but the situation has been out of control for a long time. And of course, in the current political climate, this will never happen. Better to starve SSA of needed resources to handle this work than actually do something--and impose more "overregulation" ;) But SSA could be proactive in adjusting to a smaller budgetary climate by actively proposing major legislative changes to its workload, if Congress refuses to give it the tools it needs to deal with this nightmare.

Anonymous said...

In 2004, 2005 & 2006, when things were going really well financially for many more people, you never heard a peep from anyone about too many undeserving people receiving SSDI payments.

Now that a lot of greedy people got burned by the so-called Great Recession, they are looking, in anger, to point the finger of blame for their financial demise on someone. And instead of focusing their bitterness at those who are to blame -- the greedy bankers who bundled up junk sub-prime mortgages and sold them as grade A investments -- they scapegoat disabled workers who are receiving a small pittance to help them pay for their housing, food and other essentials.

Sad state of affairs.

Jay S Faulkner said...

Social Security is not doomed as long as the working base is continually expanding. Plus, employees pay into the Social Security fund, so what may change is benefits paid out because of less money to pay out.

Someone told me that MEMOism is going to replace the Social Security system. I don't think it will replace it, but be in addition to Social Security.