davidstockmanscontracorner.com / Laura Wiltshire, via NCPA •
According to the most recent Trustees Report, the Social Security Disability trust fund, which would have been depleted by the end of this year, will now run dry in 2019, thanks to a little finagling of the payroll tax. But this is a short-term solution to a program that is in desperate need of real reform.
According to National Affairs, the rate of approval for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications has remained fairly constant, the program has grown from serving 0.2 percent of the population age 50 to 65 (at which time only this age group was eligible) in 1956 to 5 percent of all adults in 2012. The increased presence of women in the workforce and the aging baby boomer generation explains part of this rise in dependence on the SSDI, but certainly fails to explain the trends in diagnoses and the failure to rehabilitate workers and send them back into the fray. The program’s structure arguably creates a perverse incentive for workers to not even attempt to return to work — beneficiaries often go through a two-year application process that drains their savings, and being approved requires applicants to prove they cannot work in order to benefit, thus nullifying the Social Security Administration’s attempts to convince beneficiaries that they can return to work in some capacity under the Ticket to Work program.
In addition to the perverse work incentives, a major source of contention regarding Social Security’s Disability Insurance that does not get much media attention is the amount of fraud and overpayments that occur. The rate of successful fraudulent applications gaining benefits from the SSDI, according to the White House, is only 1 percent. However, fraudulent applications are not the only way claimants receive “bonus funds” from the government.