Recently, in the wake of record numbers of individuals applying for and receiving Social Security Disability benefits, there has been a great backlash against the whole program. Those individuals who receive SSDI benefits have been unjustly labeled as freeloaders by some who contend they are merely looking for a handout. In reality, there are two main factors contributing to the increase in the number of SSDI applicants and claimants.
While SSDI opponents believe the rising number of unemployed workers have lead to many looking for ways to scheme the system, the reality is that a huge percentage of the American population is aging. The baby boomer population is getting older and with age comes increased risks of injuries and illnesses that can prevent individuals from being able to work.
When SSDI was enacted fifty-six years ago, roughly 17 percent of the total U.S. population was between the ages of 45 and 60. Today, that number is nearly 27 percent and expected to increase sizably in the near future. It’s a matter of simple math that if more Americans are older, more Americans will likely have injuries and illnesses that make it difficult or impossible for them to perform job duties.
Another major contributing factor to the recent increase in SSDI applicants and claimants stems from the number of women in the workforce. When SSDI was first set up only about 25 percent of women worked outside the home, today about 70 percent hold jobs outside the home. These women represent a huge increase in the number of Americans that are eligible to receive SSDI benefits and many are amongst the growing aging population.
As debate continues about the future of SSDI, it’s crucial that Americans keep in mind the real reasons for the increase in those receiving and applying for benefits. Moreover, these reasons make it more crucial than ever that we continue to fund SSDI and support those who are not able to work.
Source: The Buffalo News, “Aging, not abuse of system, accounts for increased use,” Jeffrey Freedman, Sept. 7, 2012