Disability Claims Skyrocket Over Past Decade: Report

April 11, 2013 3:04 pm Last Updated: April 11, 2013 3:06 pm

Disability claims skyrocket: Over the past ten years, more and more Americans have been acquiring disability claims, according to the Social Security Administration in a new report.

CNN Money reported that since 2003, there has been a 29 percent increase in Americans with little or no work experience have received disability payments. And there has been a 44 percent increase in disability claims for Americans who were formerly employed.

In 2011, the U.S. government spent nearly $250 billion to pay more than 23 million Americans in disability claims, which is around 7 percent of the overall population at 13 percent of the workforce.

“With every recession, we see a rise in the number of applicants,” said Andrew Houtenville, an economics professor with the University of New Hampshire, according to the network. “People are looking for options in terms of income support.”

The network reported that those numbers do not include worker compensation claims, which are mainly paid for by companies.

Social Security officials have warned that disability claims will likely run out by 2016, which will trigger Washington lawmakers to cut Social Security benefits, raise taxes, or use Social Security general funds.

Barry Lundquist, president of the Council for Disability Awareness, told CNN that it is disingenuous to say that most people on disability are trying to milk the system. “Most people really do want to work,” he said.

NPR last month reported that over the long-term, there has been a massive number Americans who have sought disability payments. And each year, the federal government spends more and more.

The broadcaster singled out Hale County, Ala., where one in four working-age adults are on disability.

A retired judge, Sonny Ryan, told NPR that he heard disability cases come up often. “Just out of curiosity, what is your disability?” Ryan asked a man at one time in the past in recalling his experience. “I have high blood pressure,” the man responded.

“So do I,” the judge said. “What else?”

The man replied: “I have diabetes.”

The judge said, “So do I.”

Dane Mitchell, a 23-year-old man on disability in Hale County, told NPR: “I was in a 1990 Jeep Cherokee Laredo. I flipped it both ways, flew 165 feet from the Jeep, going through 12 to 14,000 volts of electrical lines. Then I landed into a briar patch. I broke all five of my right toes, my right hip, seven of my vertebrae, shattering one, breaking a right rib, punctured my lung, and then I cracked my neck.”