Social Security Disability Program May Hit Shortfalls by 2016

The number of US workers claiming disability insurance increased by 22 percent in 5 years

Social Security will eventually hit the wall, but Social Security Disability Insurance may hit the wall even before Obama heads off to a permanent vacation on the many golf courses of Hawaii or rewrites the Living Constitution to become Emperor of Post-America.

Over the long term, Social Security and Medicare have promised tens of trillions of dollars more in benefits than the nation can pay for under current policies. But Social Security’s disability trust fund is in even worse shape, and current estimates say by 2016 it won’t have enough money to pay full benefits.

The fiscal security of the disability trust fund got rapidly worse as the unemployment rate rose. The number of applications has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from 1.5 million a year in 2001 to more than 2.8 million a year in 2012.

Obama has said little about how he would fix the fund's finances.

Blame Republicans. That always works. The SSDI situation has gotten so bad because the system is clearly being abused. There's no other explanation for such a dramatic hike in claims.

The number of US workers claiming disability insurance increased by 22 percent in 5 years, coinciding with an economic recession.

1.6 million Americans got on the disability rolls, moving them up from 7.1 million to 8.7 million. And 99 percent of the people on those rolls stay on them until retirement age. And the total cost of all that is around 130 billion dollars a year.

Over 5 percent of the working age population is on disability. That's rather high. Either construction sites have decided to dump hard harts and every lunch room has decided to start cooking with plutonium, or there's something else at work here.

Eberstadt points out that in 1960, only one-fifth of disability benefits went to those with “mood disorders” and “musculoskeletal” problems. In 2011, nearly half of those on disability voiced such complaints.