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CommentariesEntitlement Society

Lunch Break Read: The Curious Case of Exploding Disability Claimants

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

While you’re taking your lunch break today, be sure to check out this Daniel Horowitz commentary on Conservative Review, titled, “The Curious Case of Exploding Disability Claimants.” He discusses the suspicious pattern of cost increases out-growing enrollment increases in the federal Social Security Disability Insurance program. (A government program that costs more than it should cost… shocker!)

Here is a quick preview:

“Federal Government Overpays $17 billion in Disability Payments.” Most people probably never bothered to click on articles with headlines like this; after all there is nothing new, this is a federal program and we’ve come to expect nothing less than rampant fraud and abuse. However, the disability program is particularly rife with waste and a recent report by the Office of the Inspector General offers a great opportunity for conservatives to demand reforms. The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) is the basket case of all federal programs. What’s worse? The waste and abuse has knowingly continued unfettered by any real attempt to address the problem over the years.

In 1956, Congress created the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Even though workers were originally promised that their payroll taxes would be exclusively purveying retirement benefits, a percentage of that tax revenue was diverted towards the disability program. Throughout the ensuing decades the scope of eligibility for the program expanded from those over 50 years old to all ages plus children and spouses of disabled workers. Eligibility standards were also consistently liberalized.

By 1998, there were 6.3 million individuals receiving disability benefits, at the cost of $47.7 million a year. By the end of 2014, the program had exploded to $141 billion, servicing almost 11 million individuals with an average monthly payment of $1,165 per disabled worker. Disability insurance now accounts for 17% of the cost of Social Security. The cost for SSDI also dramatically affects Medicare. All SSDI recipients are automatically eligible for Medicare after two years. According to CBO, the Medicare cost for those on disability is more than 80% of the underlying program. That would mean Medicare costs could exceed $112 billion a year for those on disability.

The obvious question is how can enrollment in a disability program increase by 72% in just 15 years? The fact that there were several deep economic downturns doesn’t explain the increase in disabilities as it would the increase in food stamps and unemployment benefits. Workers don’t have more of a propensity to incur permanent disabilities during bad economic times.

Moreover, how is it that the cost of the program has increased by almost 200% if enrollment *only* increased by 72%?

Read more at the Conservative Review here.


Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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