As Unemployment Claims Decline, Disability Claims Rise

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Since 2007, the number of people collecting social security disability benefits, or SSDI, has grown by 3.4 million. Two new studies, one co-produced by the Obama administration, document a direct relationship between those seeking SSDI after their unemployment benefits run out. With 10.6 million Americans receiving payments of roughly $1,000 a month plus access to Medicare and Medicaid, there are concerns that the Social Security Trust Fund will be completely depleted by 2017.

Mark Duggan is a professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He has studied the relationship between the unemployment rate and applications for disability benefits.


Mark Duggan

Comments [4]

SSDAdvocate from Boston, Ma

With so many people applying for Social Security Disability benefits in recent years, the SSA is getting backlogged with more cases than they can handle. The backlog is responsible for some disabled people having to wait over two years to receive the benefits they are entitled to. In order to avoid getting denied in the initial stage of your application, some people have utilized the services of specialized of a specialized SSDI/SSI attorney in their area. If you would like to be connected with an attorney to help you present your case in the best light in front of the SSA, check out today.

Jan. 13 2012 10:23 AM
Irene Martin from Charlotte, NC

Mark Duggan shames Wharton by not having done his homework as regards Social Security Disability benefits. I noticed because I used to represent totally disabled citizens before administrative law judges on appeal. And I also noticed because my brother is terminally ill from lung cancer. He will not live the five month waiting period to receive the first check after having paid payroll deductions for 45 years. He is 61. Duggan focuses entirely upon the red herring of the Social Security trust fund solvency not admitting adjustments could be made such as raising the income cap on premiums to supplement the trust. He also fails to assess the medical demographic of applicants and new recipients. In any case one must be "totally disabled" to be approved. A laborer with grade school education is held to a lower standard than a college graduate. With the Boomers reaching career end, the increases in type II diabetes (often with blindness and amputations) and surging early onset Alzheimer's, as well as measured increases in depression and other serious mental illnesses it is no wonder applications and approvals are up. These people paid premiums and are entitled to this benefit. And if the program didn't exist we would still have to care for them by other means. To suggest malingerers are flooding the system is an insult to every disabled worker and the rhetoric of crypto fascism. Be ashamed of the tone of this piece Todd Zwillich. Unemployed people losing benefits cannot wait 5 years or muster the money for an appeal. Why not interview some real people?

Dec. 29 2011 08:14 PM

I'm sorry to say that I hadn't heard "The Takeaway" until today as I was driving in the Savannah area. My NPR station in Connecticut doesn't offer it, apparently. I thought the story on Social Security Disability was well done, but didn't go far enough. This really is an outrage, that "back pain," as your interviewee suggested, would be considered as benefits-worthy. I think my real question involves who approves benefits in the first place, and more important, who are the people judging the numerous appeals? I'm sure they would be viewed by many as "people of compassion" who believe they're doing Mother Teresa-like work, though it is, after all, the taxpayers' money. Or they believe that it doesn't matter and that "Yes" is so much easier than "No." Please keep pursuing this, even though my sense is that you don't share my sense of outrage. I wouldn't want a single qualified recipient to be denied benefits. I think, as Mr. Zwillich suggested, the universe of the "qualified" has expanded. I'd suggest we rein it in a bit for the benefit of all.

Dec. 29 2011 04:25 PM

So Social Security is going broke and Medicare is going broke but anyone who talks about reform in a serious way is derided and denounced. The acceptable tone on these issues in the media seem to be a collective shoulder shrug and a swift kick of the can down the road.

Dec. 29 2011 11:40 AM

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