04.18.2012 0

Defining disability down

By Howard Rich — Fraud, waste and abuse in government will always be popular political targets, especially during an election year. But they are not the root causes of this nation’s escalating bankruptcy. Washington isn’t broke because the government is inefficient. It’s broke because it promises too much.

One entitlement program that highlights the progression of this disease is the Social Security Disability Insurance fund. In August 2010 a report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that hundreds of federal employees were receiving millions in fraudulently obtained disability benefits from this fund. Reforms—including matching disability beneficiaries and recipients to federal payroll data—were recommended but according to the Government Accountability Office have not been implemented.

According to the latest data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), 8.6 million American workers (and two million dependents) received $10.2 billion in disability payments in February 2012. That translates into a staggering $125 billion in disability payments each year—a number that’s increased 17-fold over the past four decades (after adjusting for inflation).

According to last year’s Social Security Administration’s Trustees report, U.S. workers pumped $104 billion into this program in 2010 from payroll taxes while the system paid out $127.7 billion in benefits. Why is this happening? That’s easy—our government keeps expanding the entitlement.

Get full story here from the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

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