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In the aftermath of the Great Recession, from 2011 to 2102, there were actually less Social Security disability claims, less awards and more SSDI terminations. By the end of 2012, total disabled workers numbered 8.8 million --- but the NPR consistently reports 14 million.

Key Findings:

  • By the end of George W. Bush's term in 2008 there were 7,427,203 disabled Americans on SSDI --- and by the end of 2012 there were 8,827,795 receiving monthly SSDI benefits.
  • Over the span of four years during Obama's first term as President (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012) there was a net gain of 1,400,592 Americans on SSDI (for an average net gain of 350,148 people per year added to the SSDI rolls.
  • In the aftermath of the Great Recession, from 2011 to 2102, there were actually less Social Security disability claims, less awards and more terminations.

  • From 2011 to 2012 the net number of disabled workers receiving disability benefits rose by only 251,728
  • By the end of 2012, total disabled workers numbered 8.8 million and had an average monthly benefit of $1,130.34
  • The NPR has falsely and consistently reported that there are 14.0 million disabled workers
  • 50% of disability beneficiaries were between the ages of 56 and 66

The Media on the Disability Numbers

Dan Quayle (Chairman at Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that owns Bushmaster Firearms) was the first president of the NPR. Today Gary Evan Knell is the president and CEO of the NPR, who may or may not be personally responsible for waging NPR's war on disabled Americans --- possibly in an attempt to influence pubic opinion by consistently reporting false statistics and skewed data regarding SSDI beneficiaries. This is something we may have once expected from the Republican Party, those who passed a bill  in Congress to de-fund the NPR. But now it appears that the NPR and the GOP are mutual friends, and they also seem to have a common enemy --- disabled American workers.

The NPR has repeatedly reported that there are 14 million disabled workers:

  • The NPR reported in this article: "Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government."
  • The NPR reported in this article: "The number of workers on disability has been doubling every 15 years or so. It has now reached that 14 million number."
  • The NPR reported in this article: "These 14 million Americans don't have jobs, but they don't show up in any of the unemployment measures that we use. They receive federal assistance, but are often overlooked in discussions of the social safety net."
  • The NPR reported in this article: "There are now 14 million people receiving benefits from the federal government because their disabilities make it hard for them to work."

At the Daily Kos Jennifer Kates writes a couple of comprehensive articles about the NPR's war on the disabled, about Social Security disability and the politics behind it.

Last year on Fox News even Bill O'Reilly (who hates all government entitlement programs) got the actual number right: "That number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability." But then he goes on to say, "So why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim." But Mister O'Reilly doesn't differentiate between "claims" and actual "awards".

At the end of last year, just after O'Reilly reported on this, the Social Security Administration later reported that there were 8,827,795 --- Source: SSA (choose "disabled workers"). But the NPR would rather report 14 million. Why?

But even if one were to give the NPR the benefit of the doubt --- besides counting JUST disabled workers, if one were also to include disabled widows(ers), spouses of disabled workers and children of disabled workers, the total number would still be less than 14 million --- it would be 11,146,368.

And even if there were 14 million disabled Americans, so what. Shouldn't they all be compensated after becoming disabled and can no longer work? Shouldn't the unemployed also receive jobless benefits? Shouldn't the poor also receive food stamps and Medicaid? Shouldn't the elderly also receive Medicare and Social Security? If not, then what makes America any different than any other despotic country?

With the offshoring of jobs overseas, the millions who are still long-term unemployed, depressed wages, the ever increasing cost of living, an ever rising gap in wealth disparity and income inequality, ever more guestworker visas being implemented to import more foreign workers, increasing automation and robotics displacing ever more workers, and multi-billionaires like Charles Koch trying the eliminate the minimum wage, how are millions of ordinary Americans (the masses) expected to survive?

As it is now, according to the Social Security Administration, 50% of all U.S. wage earners (who filed a W-4 with an employer and paid FICA taxes) earned $26,965 a year or LESS. Those receiving disability benefits averaged only $13,564 a year.

Aren't the disabled (and the elderly) allowed to live? Especially older workers and those who worked all their lives in labor-intensive jobs to help make people like the Koch brothers so rich. 50% of those receiving SSDI are between the ages of 56 and 66 --- so they are already nearing early or regular retirement age...those who just couldn't manage to make it in the home stretch of their working careers.

JUST for disabled working-aged Americans (those that the NPR and Fox News insinuates are lazy and would rather be on the government dole receiving poverty-level benefits rather than working), the number is 8,827,795 for those keeping score.

See all the data and charts further below from the Social Security Administration with direct links to sources.

Disability, Unemployment Benefits, Older Workers and Jobs

A Congressional Budget Office study says that when opportunities for employment are plentiful, some people who could qualify for disability benefits find working more attractive. Conversely, when employment opportunities are scarce, some of those people participate in the disability program instead. Indeed, applications to the program increased -- during and immediately following the recessions that occurred in the early 1990s, in 2001, and over the past few years --- as did the number of people receiving disability benefits.

Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, acknowledged that when employers are hiring lots of people, disabled people (just like any one else) also finds it easier to land a job.

Last year the Wall Street Journal also reported that many desperate Americans may be seeking refuge in the disability program as a last resort after their unemployment insurance and savings run out. But earlier this year, in a new study by Jesse Rothstein (University of California, Berkeley and NBER) found that there was "no indication that expiration of UI benefits causes DI applications."

Last year the Congressional Budget Office also did study on this subject, and according to the Huffington Post, had found that "The rise in America's ranks of disabled stems from an aging population, a surge in women workers, changes in the law in the 1980s and a terrible economy in which disabled people can't find jobs" and that "the biggest jump in the disabled population came from aging Baby Boomers."

Now the Wall Street Journal is acknowledging Jesse Rothstein's study: "The sharp rise in federal disability rolls in recent years has sparked worry that able-bodied workers are using the system to hide from the weak job market. But new research suggests those fears may be overblown."

Even though a study says, "As the U.S. population grows older, the number of years Americans can expect to live with disability from causes such as depression and low back and neck pain has increased."

And that's not even accounting for a Congressional hearing on the long-term unemployed which determined that older workers who were laid off during the Great Recession haven't been offered jobs, and still remain long-term unemployed.

And that doesn't even account for a lack of jobs in general (3.1 unemployed for every job opening). The Wall Street Journal reports that not enough people are quitting their jobs, and that a humming economy usually means a high rate of churn in the work force --- where an employee voluntarily leaves one job for another in search of a higher paying job and new challenges. But that's not happening.

And of the jobs that have been created lately, restaurants and bars have done the bulk of hiring with younger people in part-time low-paying jobs.

Data From the Social Security Administration

Applications (claims) Awards (added) Terminations (subtracted) Total Disabled
2011 2,878,920 1,025,003 656,902 8,576,067
2012 2,820,812 979,973 726,432 8,827,795
Difference 58,108 less 45,030 less 69,530 more 251,728

Social Security Administration - Benefits Paid by Type of Beneficiary for "Disabled worker" for the last 5 years (annual numbers) -- Source:

* There was a net gain of 251,728 from 2011 to 2012 who received Social Security disability benefits

End of year
Number Average amount
Dec 2008 7,427,203 $1,063.14
Dec 2009 7,789,113 $1,064.31
Dec 2010 8,204,710 $1,067.79
Dec 2011 8,576,067 $1,110.51
Dec 2012 8,827,795 $1,130.34

Disabled worker beneficiary statistics by calendar year -- Source:

Social Security Disability

For 2012: 2,820,812 applications (claims) -- 979,973 awards (approvals) -- 726,432 terminations (stopped receiving SSDI benefits) = a net gain of 253,541 for 2012.

Claims / Awards / Terminations --- Claims for SS disability decreased from 2,878,920 in 2011 to 2,820,812 in 2012 (and decrease of 58,108 for claims), and actual awards also decreased from 1,025,003 in 2011 to 979,973 in 2012. Terminations also increased (meaning less received SSDI benefits) from 656,902 in 2011 to 726,432 in 2012 (there were 69,530 more terminations). !

(a) The number of applications is for disabled-worker benefits only and, as such, excludes disabled child's and disabled widow(er)'s benefits. Applications ultimately result in either a denial or award of benefits. These counts include applications that are denied because the individual is not insured for disability benefits. (b) Award data are unedited and may contain duplicates. (c) The number of terminations is the number of beneficiaries who leave the disability rolls for any reason.

Disabled workers: 8,827,795 -- Average monthly benefit: $1,130.34 (50% are between the ages of 56 and 66) -- Source:

* Disabled workers and dependents: 10,614,398 - Counting dual-entitled beneficiaries - If a beneficiary is entitled to both a primary benefit (as a retired or disabled worker) and another benefit (say a spousal benefit) payable from the same trust fund, then he or she is counted only once in our statistics as a primary beneficiary.

Originally posted to Bud Meyers on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 04:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Really well done (26+ / 0-)

    You put an enormous amount of work putting this diary together with all your facts and figures.  Social Security should have been put in a "lock box" as Al Gore ran on in 2000.  SSDI and SSI have an important place in our scheme of protecting workers and retirees.  

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 06:12:47 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Diary Bud Meyers (21+ / 0-)

    I know several people who are waiting on SS disability decisions.   Seems like they turn down every application at least once.  Is this a recent stall tactic or has it been going on a long time?

    •  Varies by state. (13+ / 0-)

      In many states the denial rate for initial claims is 60% to 70%; denial for first appeal is often 80% to 90%; denial for second appeal is lower.

      Your friends should get referrals to lawyers from

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:50:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Most allowances occur at the state level. (0+ / 0-)

        Only about 1/4 of benefit awards occur at the stage where being represented by a lawyer is common.

        •  You and I are both right. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Many people who are denied at any step of the appeal process don't appeal further--they just give up, or they start over with a new application. Thus the number of cases drops dramatically with each step up the appeal ladder.

          I.e., 35% of initial applications are approved, but this is 35% of a big number. Around 50% are approved at the hearing stage (second appeal), but this is 50% of a much smaller number.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:36:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  ScienceMom - it's a small sample size (10+ / 0-)

      but I don't know anyone who was successful with an SSDI claim without the assistance of expert counsel. If your friends are trying to do this themselves they need to find a lawyer who specializes in this area of the law.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:00:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know a guy who got it first try.... (5+ / 0-)

        he has MS and really should have applied earlier.  He is quite mobility challenged.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:33:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  those kinds of obvious disabilities are becoming (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the minority of claims...most, these days, are for depression, mental illness, or musculo-skeletal ailments that can't be verified.  "My back hurts."

          Back in the 60's and through most of the 70's, the bulk of SSDI claims were for heart disease, diabetes and other readily diagnosable ailments.

          The entire definition of "disabled" has undergone a metamorphosis over the past 30 years.

 used to be that you had to have worked a set number of quarters in order to qualify for SSDI.  Now, we have children getting on the rolls for fuzzily diagnosed "learning disabilities."

          Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

          by Keith930 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:40:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  At a workshop I was told certain things (0+ / 0-)

          are given approval right away; ALS and kidney failure were 2 examples; they wouldn't fight those for obvious reasons. MS they can argue about because not everyone has severe symptoms.

      •  There are data (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib, radarlady

        For all DI-only applicants in a given year, about 55-60% are ultimately allowed (that number has fallen to about 50% in the past year or 2). Only about 25% of all the people who are awarded benefits, have their benefits awarded at the ALJ stage, when it is common to have a lawyer.

        Also there is very little evidence that having a lawyer actually improves your chances. Lawyers screen their potential cases and only take those they think they can win.

    •  As far as I know, this tactic explicitly began (9+ / 0-)

      under President Ronald Reagan, who order the SSA to 'purge' the disability rolls. It's late, and I'm tired, so I don't have a link to back this up. But it's been this way ever since I can remember.

      Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

      by earicicle on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:58:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, he threw off 400k (6+ / 0-)

        people in one fell swoop as I recall, made them all reapply.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 11:19:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Two different things. (8+ / 0-)

          The Reagan purge was of people who were already receiving disability benefits.

          ScienceMom was asking about the approval rate for new applications.

          Notes on the Reagan purge:

          (1) It resulted in the federal courts imposing a "medical improvement" standard, saying SSA can't terminate benefits unless it shows the recipient has actually gotten better. Under Reagan, they were looking at the same medical evidence and just saying, "We've changed our mind about what functional limitations this shows."

          (2) Terminations are also increasing under Obama, but not to the extreme degree as under Reagan. Yet.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:51:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  corrections (0+ / 0-)

            Congress enacted the "medical improvement standard" for continuing disability review in 1984 legislation.

            The number of people on SSDI who have their benefits terminated because of a medical CDR is tiny (about 5000 per year). This in no different under Obama than under the previous two presidents. Obama has asked for additional funding to do more CDRs (there is a huge backlog than remain unfunded and not completed). Even so the number completed in his term is much less than during late Clinton, early Bush.


            •  Corrections to corrections. Need more corrections. (0+ / 0-)

              Congress was late to the party. They pretty much just codified what the courts had already required. Example: Simpson v. Schweiker (11th Cir. 1982): "If, however, the evidence in a continuation case is substantially the same as the evidence had been in the initial disability benefits request case, benefits must be continued. Otherwise, termination of benefits will often depend not on a finding of changed condition, but simply on the whim of a changed ALJ...After a final determination of disability, if a termination of benefits were effected without a showing either of improvement or newly-discovered evidence, such a termination would of necessity be based on whim or caprice or would constitute an impermissible relitigation of facts and determinations already finally decided." (ALJ = administrative law judge, i.e., a Social Security judge.)

              Terminations are running at over 700,000 per year for DIB ( [PDF]) and about 190,000 per year for SSI ( [PDF, see table 77]). The "rate" for DIB terminations is # of terminations per 1,000 beneficiaries per year.

              The link Economides posted says they proposed to terminate over 84,000 people for medical improvement (DIB + SSI), and expect after all appeals actually to terminate about 57,000. I do not understand the disparity with either the number in his comment or the numbers in the SSA documents I posted. Perhaps Economides or someone else can clear it up?

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:32:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  my explanation (0+ / 0-)

                Let's just stick to DI workers for simplicity.

                You can be "terminated" from DI benefits if you:

                (a)  reach age 66 (then you are converted to retirement benefits).
                (b) die.
                (c) earn too much money from working (and you are not in your trial work period, etc...)
                (d)  undergo a continuing disability review (CDR) and are found to have medically improved

                Only (d) is subject to administrative control in the sense that the Congress can fund and the agency can perform more reviews of a person's medical condition. Aging out, dying. earnings above SGA are not things the agency/administration controls.

                At the end of 2010 there were roughly 8.2 million DI workers. Using your source (the Annual statistical report on SSDI program), Table 50:
                There were 653,877 DI worker benefits terminated:
                338,222 turned 66 and converted to retirement
                235,734 died
                  39,813 earned over SGA when they were not allowed
                  23,271 medically improved, or did not cooperate or disappeared.

                Compare 23,271 to my sources figure of 12,335 initial cessations, which after appeals was expected to result in 6353 for fiscal year 2010. It's all SSA's administrative data so I am not sure why they are not closer. The CDR erport is based on CDRs initiated in 2010, whereas the DI report is CDRs completed.  unless there were 10000 disappearances or failure to cooperate.  The CDR report sats tehre we another 4,000 "not centrally initiated periodic CDR cessations, so now we are 6000 apart.

                In either case, it is a very small percentage of total DI beneficiaries who are terminated from the program because SSA decides they have "recovered" or medically improved. 23,000 out of 8.2 million is 0.2%.

                Proportionately, it is far far less than in the early 80's under Reagan (which is how we started this conversation). In 1982,  105 out of a 1000 DI beneficiaries died or "recovered". In 2010 it's 37 out of 1000. (adjusted for age and sex it would be 121/1000 in 1982 versus 37/1000 today)

    •  My experience (7+ / 0-)

      from working for a disability attorney back in the 90s was that claims almost always went to a hearing, regardless of their legitimacy, and were almost always awarded at that level. HeyMikey's numbers were pretty much accurate then too: about 90% denial rate for initial claims, 70% on reconciliation, next step going before an ALJ. It usually took about 9 months to a year to get a hearing, with back pay retroactive to the initial claim once awarded.

      •  Your experience is not typical (0+ / 0-)

        About 75% of disability awards occur before the ALJ stage.

        •  That must be why (0+ / 0-)

          other people's numbers correlated with mine.

          •  not sure I understand (0+ / 0-)

            Other people's numbers correlated with yours because yours were atypical/misleading? I don't follow.

            Anyway, denial rates are about 65% at the initial stage, 87-90% at reconsideration, and 30% at the ALJ level. There are many more people who get a final, favorable decision at the initial stage. Neither most cases, nor most allowances occur at the ALJ stage. Once you get to the  ALJ stage, until very recently, about 60% of cases wound up as allowances, 10-15% as dismissals, and 25-30% as denials. There are big regional and judge to judge differences.

    •  If you meet the criteria (8+ / 0-)

      You can be allowed the first time you file.

      If you submit your medical records with your application and they show you meet one of the listings of impairments or are a medical vocational allowance you are allowed.

      The whole thing about being turned down at least once is sort of a myth.

      The truth of the matter is often a person does not meet the criteria or the medical evidence is not complete enough for social security doctors to limit a person enough to be a medical vocational allowance.

      So generally with each successive filing more evidence is gathered which could support limiting a person further, and generally the more, detailed medical evidence the more likely you are to be allowed. Assuming it supports your allegations.

      Another thing that contributes to the perception is that the first 2 levels of filing claims are done at the DDS.

      The examiners and doctors at DDS have their work reviewed by the DDS internal Quality Assurance unit which sort of is the devils advocate, and then a % age are also reviewed by DQB which is the Federal Quality Assurance unit so often at the DDS if they allow an "iffy" case or make an assumption of limitation based on a claimants statement that is not entirely documented in the medical QA will give them an error.

      At the third level of appeal you go before an Administrative Law Judge and they have way more leeway in saying the claimant has work related limitations based on the claimant's statements ALONE, rather than having to base those limitations partially on the objective medical evidence like the DDS has to do. So a judge can pose limitations that make a claimant a medical vocational allowance way easier than DDS. Resulting in more allowances at the third level of appeal.

      Another thing that helps the ALJ's is only a small fraction of their decisions are reviewd for quality assurance and that is by the appeals council. So they can make assumptions and pose limitations on claimants with impunity due to this, compared to DDS which really has to fully document and back up their limitations with objective medical evidence.

      •  I was one of those whose claim was accepted (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emeraldmaiden, Wee Mama

        the first time.  I went down to the SS office and they helped me fill the application out.  I brought all my medical records available at the time.  They were very helpful and I received notification I was eligible 2 months later.  Being able to use Medicare (2 year wait) has made a tremendous difference in my quality of life.

        "Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist." Pastor Martin Niemoller

        by Haplogroup V on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 02:20:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's difficult in Texas - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I hear that it's best to contact an attorney's office and have them handle the paperwork.  They know what to expect!  I have RRMS and the thought goes through my mind occasionally.

      All that being said, I'd rather be working than not.  But I have several things that I could do freelance that would keep me very busy - I'm in that 'employment lock' that they talk about.  I've got to have this job for the insurance.  Freelance would be great, because then I wouldn't have to call in sick when I'm having a relapse.

      I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love / And I'm like / Please proceed, Governor. - Dave Itzkoff

      by Jensequitur on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:44:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good catch on NPR's whopper.... BUT (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Vetwife, Rogneid

    I think it bears repeating that there is a problem with the growth of SSDI rolls. It is true that from 2011-2012, the growth in SSDI rolls is the smallest since 1998. But it was still a growth of 2.9%. In other words, still 4X the rate of population growth. Something is not right and we need to get to the bottom of this problem.

  •  Thank you. (14+ / 0-)

    I suspect the NPR figure of 14 million includes those drawing survivor's benefits on the accounts of deceased workers, in addition to the other auxiliary recipients you mentioned in the 11+ million figure.

    I represent disabled SSI and Social Security claimants for a living. I am glad to see some light thrown on this area.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 09:48:43 PM PDT

  •  You are wrong. You owe NPR an apology. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YellerDog, DFWmom, fladem, HeyMikey, FG, Oh Mary Oh

    There are two types of "Social Security Disability" -- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), based on employment history, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), based on means. You left out SSI.
    The information is readily available at the site you referenced and clearly shows that the total number of disabled workers is just over 14,000. Monthly Statistical Snapshot, May 2013

    •  so they are talking at cross purposes.... (6+ / 0-)

      since SSI isn't SSDI.

      I actually think the number of people on SSI will potentially change as people on disability begin to qualify for ObamaCare insurance.  I know college students who have disability insurance who are concerned with losing their insurance from Medicaid when they earn too much money.  But struggling by on $700 a month isn't great if you could get a job with your college degree and a work-around for your disability.  I have a smart legally blind young lady I got a summer internship for who is 24 and it is her first real job.  she can work with large computer screens and blowing up the text size.  She will be very employable when she completes her degree and hopefully well insured.  i have a young man with severe diabetes on dialysis, awaiting his second kidney transplant who also wants to work.  I think others will find there is a better deal to be obtained in the workforce if they can get insurance.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 04:40:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

      for the clarification.

    •  You are wrong. You owe the diarist an apology. (0+ / 0-)

      SSI does not have a work requirement. SSDI does. So SSDI recipients are disabled workers. SSI recipients are disabled poor people who may have never worked.

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:35:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you are both wrong (0+ / 0-)

        The total number of people receiving disability benefits from Social Security is 14 million. That includes DI workers, DI spouse, DI dependent children , SSI disabled children and SSI disabled adults. It includes people who receive  DI and SSI benefits concurrently (it does not double count them).

        That is the number that NPR reports. They do not report 14 million workers. Here is the sentence from the first paragraph of the infamous NPR piece by Chana Joffe-Walt:

        "Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government."

  •  How does cohort effect affect the numbers? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, greengemini, Be Skeptical

    What happens as a disabled boomer on SSDI turns 66 and goes  off SSDI and into regular Social Security payments? Older people are more likely to have become disabled, and, as the population ages, more will be regular Social Security age.

    Thanks for great, detailed, documented, diary.

    "There is just one way to save yourself, and that's to get together and work and fight for everybody." ---Woody Guthrie (quoted by Jim Hightower in The Progressive Populist April 1, 2012, p3)

    by CitizenJoe on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:25:43 AM PDT

    •  Still increasing, for now. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, greengemini

      The Baby Boom is commonly considered to include those born 1946-63, i.e., those now age 50 to 67. So most of the Baby Boom is still under 65, in their prime disability years. We can expect the Baby Boom to continue to push up the number of people on disability for a number of years, still.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:59:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is a good question and I know (4+ / 0-)

    from an insurance perspective with disabled vets who are drawing SSD and their spouses as part of their award on total disability permanent in nature have to switch from Champ VA..( not tricare) to make Social Security part B ..They have to take it because they get thrown off the rolls at 65 at Champ VA.  SS part B becomes their primary payee for medical treatment and Champ Va becomes econdary/// One has to pay for part B... Right now the medical insurance is of no cost except co pay...For me that goes away in two years.   Social Security Medicare has to be first payee for veterans as well right now.....They do not have to take part B to get medical care but part A covers much of their needs even for 100 percent vet.
    Say they have to have emergency hospital inpatient care...Medicare Part A is the first payee and I think the VA should be....

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:46:29 AM PDT

  •  Much Truth, but here is a real world bad.... (0+ / 0-)

    I have a 31 year old now-single daughter-in-law, who has been on SSDI for two years now.   Her "disability" award of $880/month (she has NEVER worked since she was 17) came by way of "assistance" given her by the State of Florida, getting her off THEIR active roles of welfare dependant people.  She is "too anxious" to ever work, therefore she is 100% disabled.  She now plans on submitting a claim(?!?!) for her 5 year old daughter, getting her on SSDI for her ADD problems.  "It won't be much" she said, "but it sure will help".  

    Yesterday the subsidized daycare that she gets from the State of Florida since she is disabled, kicked her son out as too unruly, they said he was "uncontrollable", and now she plans on "enrolling" both kids, as the Medicaid doctor will surely just dope the 4 year old up as bad as he did the now zombified 5 year old.  The fact that discipline is completely absent has not dawned on her as the cause of all this yet.   I am somewhat perplexed, as I  did not know that minors could be granted SSDI on their own.   She does get a tiny stipend for the kids now as part of the $880 she gets.

    My point is, however, there is absolutely NO reason she can't get a job, other than "Its such a hassle working and getting up every day".  And in truth, since she only went as far as 10th grade and refuses to believe she can ever better herself, she will never make much, if any, over minimum wage--a wage that is NOT livable for any family.

    The author has several viable points here, when she says:

    With the offshoring of jobs overseas, the millions who are still long-term unemployed, depressed wages, the ever increasing cost of living, an ever rising gap in wealth disparity and income inequality, ever more guestworker visas being implemented to import more foreign workers, increasing automation and robotics displacing ever more workers, and multi-billionaires like Charles Koch trying the eliminate the minimum wage, how are millions of ordinary Americans (the masses) expected to survive?
    I get all that and even AGREE with that premise.  But to tell  someone they are "disabled" really tells them that it is OK to never try and better their circumstances.  

    I know of another person, once my best friend, who wrenched their back while working for UPS as a temp over 25 years ago.  About 20 years ago he was granted Social Security full disability, even though I KNOW he is in much better shape than I am.  He has a bachelor's in psychology, so why a bad back would disable him is beyond me.  Between working off-the-books, doing multi-level marketing schemes and just generally mooching, he manages to live like most low level upper middle-class Americans.  He takes vacations and cruises and has maintained a gym membership for decades.

    So there is MY take on the whole disabled thing.  Its true that prospects for most Americans these days suck, but please, don't bankrupt one of MY retirement vehicles (I know they are different funds, but jeez, most people don't) to help these undeserving people.  Raise the minimum to $14/hour or something, pass the immigration bill and let the Hispanics all organize their low-level labor's jobs (like, who will cross any picket lines and take those jobs from them? Certainly not current American citizens, right?!) to pay $20/hour, change the law so its pre-1980s and make them to PROVE a physical disability once a year that keeps them from working  or, finally, institute a whistleblower reward of $1000 to any citizen who can prove they are just malingering.

    "The man who has his millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day" - S.Gompers

    by Copp on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:30:11 AM PDT

    •  Why don't you report him? (6+ / 0-)

      Or are you just full of shit? I'm glad there are people like you out there who can diagnose people from a distance without the aid of any medical training or equipment. You should start your own practice.

      •  I'll give my two examples of people I know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        One is Tito. Tito is an able-bodied man in his 50s who doesn't want to work, and collects disability for pain. It doesn't stop him from actually working, and he spends almost all of his time doing misc work (roofing, mowing, splitting wood, etc) or drinking/smoking weed. Tito could and should be working a normal job, but collecting a check and living the life (getting up at 11am, drinking all day) is what he chooses.

        The other person is Jerome. Jerome is in his early 30s and was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago. Jerome has a strong desire to work, but is caught in the trap by which every dollar he earns immediately decreases both his SSDI and his long-term disability insurance he had at his previous job. Since Jerome had a blue-collar job before his accident, his white-collar skills and experience would qualify him for entry level white-collar work, and even then it would be very difficult to find a company willing to invest in someone like him. Since he can't gain any financial ground by working, he has a strong disincentive to work, which has a strongly negative effect on his self esteem, and leaves him spending all of his time at home trying to keep from going stir-crazy.

        Whether there are more people like Jerome, or more people like Tito is unknown to me, but in both cases, there is a strong case for serious reform.

        •  This is factually incorrect: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SparkyGump, Mike08

          "every dollar he earns immediately decreases both his SSDI..." On SSDI, as long as what you earn falls below the threshold for Substantial Gainful Activity, there is no decrease in your benefits. For 2013, that amount is $1040/month for a non-blind individual; $1740 for a disabled blind person on SSDI. In other words, you can earn $1040/month from employment--in addition to anything you get from disability benefits or any non-work related income--before any 'Trial Work Period' or other SS program issues begin. ['Offsets' do not kick in 'immediately,' EVER.]

          Facts: So pesky. Two easy to make a case for trashing the entire system upon which millions of disabled Americans depend.

          Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

          by earicicle on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 03:39:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK, so it lowers his long term disability (0+ / 0-)

            you win

            •  No. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mike08, peptabysmal

              Every disabled person loses when so-called progressives join the rightwing anecdote smear train for 'serious reform'--aka CUTS CUTS CUTS--to SSDI.

              You know not whereof you speak. Why don't you take two seconds to educate yourself? Googling the facts would have taken less time than writing out your angry, false comment. And many LTD policies don't offset 1:1, because they want to encourage beneficiaries to try to get back to work. were dead wrong about how SSDI works. Are you sure you are correct about LTD?

              Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

              by earicicle on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 06:39:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm with you, but many LTD plans do in fact (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                reduce your benefit substantially when you get SSDI or any other source like a disability pension ( some of us can still get them ). Don't know how they react to earned outside income. In my case, my plan reduces 1:1 once you get another source of disability income, like SSDI or a pension,

                •  SSDI/LTD is always a 1:1 reduction--agreed. (0+ / 0-)

                  That's how LTD insurers write their policies. Was unfamiliar about pension benefits--thanks for letting me know. Not sure how earned income works with LTD...seems like the insurers would want beneficiaries to experiment with trying to get back to work, just as SS wants. But the original poster was so certain he knew how SSDI functioned, I admit that I did get a little hostile. I get tired of how 'certain' many Kossacks are on subjects they know nothing about.

                  Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                  by earicicle on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 02:39:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In NJ at least, if you are a public school (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    employee and are in the pension system, you can get a disability pension regardless of SSDI, as long as you have two doctors that agree you are disabled. Sometimes a Board of Ed doctor will be the second one, because, prior to the elimination of tenure ( it has basically been eliminated in all but name ) by Christie and his Dem lackeys, some ill folks stayed on the job because lets face it, disability pay sucks. So the Board would have their doctor chime in that a teacher was too sick to do the job effectively. I knew a counselor who was having small strokes and hung on because he had young kids and his wife had an inoperable aneurysm. But he was forgetting things right and left, did not tell anyone about the strokes, and made people think he was on drugs. He was popping the Xanax, and I don't blame him. They forced him out with a disability pension.

        •  If I found someone who was defrauding the system, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I would report them. Plain and simple.

    •  LOL. What an ass. (7+ / 0-)

      There is no such thing as 'SSDI' for five year old children. You have to pay into the SS system, via FICA, as a working adult in order to qualify for SSDI. Your O'Reilly-esque comment is loaded with nothing but hate and misinformation. Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

      Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

      by earicicle on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:06:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are so confused. (5+ / 0-)

      I wonder why you bothered to comment considering your lack of knowledge on the subject. Your imaginary daughter-in-law cannot be receiving SSDI if she has not worked since age 17. SSDI has work requirements as follows for the age you imagined your daughter-in-law would be:

      Age 24 to 31--You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).

      A waist is a terrible thing to mind.

      by edg on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:41:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you mean SSI..... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical

      i don't have quite the reaction of the other posters to your story.  there are people here in WV and other parts of the country who sign their children up for SSI based on behavioral issues and learning disabilities.  Nicholas Kristof  wrote about this in a column recently.

      I read this comment as a frustrated grandparent with the ex-daughter-in-law not rearing her children as they wish.  The children may have real problems that won't go away, but it is important to also admit some people profit from not looking for improvement for their child.  That is reported to me by teachers I respect here in WV.

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 11:45:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your Sig goes against what you just posted. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The premise that "SOME PEOPLE" make be milking a system, or have no personal drive to go out and get a job is not an indication that our (sometimes poor) governmental system does not do a great job of keeping the streets clear of people that would have to beg for change if it was not for SSDI and SSI.  I would rather "Give" a small percentage of malingerers and (as you claim) a few folks with zero ambition in life benefits, so the other 90 plus percent that REALLY are too sick or physically broken to work  can live indoors and eat regularly.  The concept that some small percentage of SOMEONES might be getting over on the system is not an indicator that we need to abandon one vital piece of the social safety net.  Anyone going off all ranting against the system because of ONE personal example has more in common with the one percent crowd and Ayn Rand, than with their fellow travelers on DKOS...  The founding fathers were smart enough to know this country would not be perfect, they just wanted it to be better than what had gone on before.  

      What you allow, is what will continue.

      by Nebraskablue on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:15:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Children do get SSI (0+ / 0-)

      There was a good series in the Boston Globe last year about SSI as "the new welfare," and the government loosened standards so that yes, ADD-with-medication can qualify a kid for benefits. In theory, I think, they're supposed to be reevaluated at age 18, but it does seem to be a permanent support route for some families, and the psychological qualifications sometimes do seem awfully vague and subject to manipulation.

      That said, having been there, single-parenting two reasonably active pre-schoolers really should be considered a full-time job, especially if we hope for quality parenting. And parenting pre-schoolers while employed full-time takes an extraordinary degree of discipline and organization, and good fortune (kids who never ever get sick, and/or grandma around the corner as back-up). There are many people who can do the parenting but not if they also have to work, or who can work full-time but not juggle day-care, public transportation, doctors' appointments, etc. on top of it. We need systems in place that provide some options, instead of demanding from poor parents what we would never demand from wealthy or middle class ones. Labelling people "disabled" shouldn't be the only survival route, but right now it seems to be.

    •  I know a 21 year old with OCD, I helped get (0+ / 0-)

      him on disability.OCD is an anxiety disorder. He cannot work. He cannot get his fucking shoes on. He cannot go to the bathroom without counting all the individual sheets of toilet paper in every stall. He cannot drive. He has an IQ of 142. He has tried every treatment. He does not get better. He is disabled. Being able bodied does not always mean you can work.

  •  Well written and very informative diary. (10+ / 0-)

    There is a presumption of guilt among the general population when it comes to people on disability. I have a form of arthritis in my spine that is very painful but not outwardly evident except when I'm on my scooter. I was shocked at the number of people who either told me or said behind my back that I'm "faking it" because I don't want to work. Yea, I want to take a 30% cut in pay and wreck my retirement plan just so I live every waking moment in pain and no longer remember what a good night's sleep is. Most people out there are narcissistic assholes who only believe what they want to believe. They see me sitting in my chair and assume "well he can sit up so he must be able to work". They'd be singing a different song if we switched bodies for one day. I'd bet the actual number of healthy people receiving disability payments is very low. I've certainly never met one.

    Thanks again for the dairy.

    •  Yup (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SparkyGump, BlueDragon, Mike08

      I'm not on SSDI, but my nurse sister keeps telling me I should apply. I can walk, but not far, so I either use store mobility carts or my manual wheelchair to get around outside the house. Sitting too long, however, makes all the muscles around my bad hip go into spasm, and the only thing to do then is lie down. How many companies offer lounging rooms for people like me? Not many, I'd wager. And my hands are beginning to deteriorate due to rheumatoid arthritis, which is basically untreated at the moment except for some pain control. I'll leave you to imagine why.

      Everyone I've ever met who was receiving disability has been disabled. Period. I don't know who all these supposed moochers are.

      •  Karma to you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I use those "Thermacare" heatwraps meant for your neck on my elbows when I have a flare up. I'll bet you can use them on your hands too. You should call a rheumatologist. Many states and localities and practices have plans in place for people who can benefit from biologics like Humira and Remicade but don't have insurance. My sister has the same RA as me and she gets her meds that way. Best to you.

      •  "reasonable accommodation"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Getting a "nap room," chaise lounge in the ladies' room (like department stores used to have), or a recliner chair may be doable, depending on where you work. Requesting a walking-around break every hour to keep your hip from spasming -- would that help? If so, remember the ADA requirement that employers provide "reasonable accommodation." As long as it doesn't cost the employer a lot, and you're a valuable employee, they may be willing to negotiate. (They allow smokers to take breaks, which to me gives some leverage to people who need other types of breaks.)

        There are huge psychological and social benefits from working, as you surely know, so my feeling tends to be that it's worth trying to get the job to adapt to your needs as long as you can. But I don't inhabit your body, so you're the only one who can decide when it's time to stop trying so hard.

  •  Thanx (0+ / 0-)

    for posting all this info on this subject , very informative

    Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

    by Patango on Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 09:27:08 AM PDT

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