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Is Social Security Disability Insurance “Wasteful”?

 Posted on April 14, 2017 in Social Security Disability

b2ap3_thumbnail_Social-Security-disability-insurance-Chicago.jpgSocial Security Disability Insurance is meant to protect individuals who are no longer able to work due to physical or mental impairments. Once a person qualifies for disability—a process that can take many years and multiple administrative and judicial appeals—the actual benefits are far from luxurious. The average disability benefit is about $1,172 per month, according to Social Security's official statistics. This is roughly the equivalent of a full-time worker making $7 per hour—less than the Illinois minimum wage.

Post Editors, White House Budget Director Attack Disability Recipients

Yet some politicians and media pundits think that even the current meager level of benefits is excessive. The Washington Post editorial board recently said Social Security Disability Insurance “needs reform.” The Post's editors cited a “surge” in disability recipients and the program's increasing costs.

Echoing The Washington Post editors' sentiments, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the U.S. Office Management and Budget, recently said disability insurance was a “wasteful program” that he wanted to “try and fix.” Mulvaney cited the “tremendous” growth in the number of disability recipients during former President Barack Obama's administration.

But a fact check of Mulvaney's statements—published, ironically enough, in The Washington Post—said the rise in beneficiaries, which actually began in the 1990s, needs to be viewed in the context of changing U.S. demographics. As more baby boomers enter their 50s and 60s—peak years for disability applications—an increase in the number of claimants is to be expected. As for “waste,” while Mulvaney and his staff “pointed to improper disability payments,” The Post noted that these only accounted for about 1.2 percent of total disability spending.

Will Trump Protect Disability Insurance?

Again, it is important to emphasize how no one is getting rich off of disability payments. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in an article criticizing The Washington Post's call for “reform,” noted the United States “ranks near the bottom” of developed countries with respect to the “generosity of its benefits” despite having one of the lowest overall unemployment rates. Indeed, Baker quipped the average monthly disability benefit of $1,172 equaled “roughly six minutes of pay” for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “in his former job as the head of Exxon-Mobil.”

Yet it may be Tillerson and Mulvaney's boss who squashes any further talk about cutting disability benefits. President Donald Trump said during last year's campaign that he would not cut funding for Social Security. And on April 12, The Hill reported that Trump ordered Mulvaney not to touch Social Security benefits in his first budget proposal. However, Mulvaney said he was still “working on” a way to convince the president to make “changes to Social Security Disability Insurance.”

Get Help From an Illinois Social Security Disability Attorney

While nobody can say for sure what the future holds for Social Security Disability Insurance, the reality is that today there are thousands of Illinois residents who are unable to work and may be entitled to benefits. If you are one of these people, you need to speak with a qualified Chicago disability benefits lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, to speak with an attorney today.





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