The Deseret News of Salt Lake City has a long piece on "How federal disability policy mangles its mission." Here are a few excerpts:
Over the last 20 years, the disability rolls have burgeoned. In 1989, just 2.3 percent of Americans aged 25-64 received SSDI benefits. Today, that number has jumped to nearly 5 percent, or nearly 9 million adults.
That jump was not cheap. In 1990, Social Security spent $20 billion a year on disability. Today, it spends more than $128 billion.
And much of this growth went to often hazy claims that are hard to prove, including mental disorders and back pain. And many are not so much disabled as they are economically bypassed. ...
Like most federal entitlements, the disability program faces an existential crisis, as limited resources stand in the way of ever-expanding expectations.
Later this month, a key Social Security advisory board will meet to fix the disability system by getting fewer false positives that drive up costs and fewer false negatives that chew up lives. ...
When SSDI was enacted in 1956, “an able worker could maintain a job and didn't need assistance from the disability program, but a disabled worker couldn't possibly work, and needed the government to provide income and medical care,” said MIT's [David] Autor.
The 1956 disability law, still in force, treats a disabled worker as an oxymoron. You are either a worker or you are disabled — not both.
That model is now “totally outdated,” Autor said, “partly because work is more sedentary, and medicine can actually help you. But also because attitudes have greatly changed.” The very purpose of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, he notes, is to integrate the disabled worker into the labor force, by compelling employers to be more accommodating.
“Many Americans are willing and able to work,” Autor said, but work limitations under current law “curtail their earning power and raise their health costs.” ...
If the Americans with Disabilities Act was supposed to get more disabled workers into the work force, it seems to have failed. In fact, the sharp spike in disability claims began when the ADA was passed, notes Jennifer Erkulwater, a professor of political science at the University of Richmond in Virginia.
“Everyone thought the ADA was going to open up work to people with disabilities and they would become taxpayers,” Erkulwater said. “In fact, it had the exact opposite effect.”
Erkulwater suspects that the ADA, combined with 1984 policy changes that opened up disability claims for mental and musculoskeletal disorders, drove up claims by destigmatizing disability and encouraging new types of disorders.Articles like this can just appear on their own based upon a reporter's investigation. However, they are often planted. I suspect that this and similar articles are being planted by economic interests wishing to preserve and expand the Ticket to Work program. Ticket to Work is a complete failure and waste of money yet the contractors that profit from Ticket to Work want it expanded.