OMG! The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Social Security Disability will run out of money in SIX YEARS!
Or, we might kick the Republicans out of office in 2012 and have four years to fix the economy and create jobs for the handicapped.
As the job market shrinks, there are fewer employers willing to make the accommodations for disabled employees (hell, they’re not willing to hire the unemployed). Hence, more disabled workers are unable to find work. Hence, more disabled workers are applying for disability under Social Security because their unemployment has run out and the maze of safety net programs keeps pointing back to Disability. It also takes from two to three years to get approved for Social Security Disability, so it’s not like the agency is just passing out checks. And if you are unfortunate enough to have a medical procedure that cures one aspect of your disability, but not the rest, you still have to start the whole process all over again.
Social Security Disability is not a program that you qualify for simply by being an American citizen and breathing. No one should be surprised that applications for SSD are up 50% over a decade ago. In addition to SSD being a path of last choice, older workers are qualifying because the jobs they have held for decades have finally taken their toll on workers’ bodies, or the conditions that they have managed for decades are having permanent, disabling effects – like the disintegration of feet in diabetes patients.
But is there really a need for headlines that scream PANIC! No. That’s like all the doomsday headlines about Social Security running out of money in twenty or thirty years.
The “running out of money” scenario is only valid if we allow our economy to continue slipping into third world levels with the gap between rich and poor growing ever wider. It is only valid as long as we continue to allow our middle class to be dried up. It is only valid if we refuse to fight back and get a fair tax system. We know how to fix our economy. What we don’t know is how to fight the propaganda that has convinced people that we are over-taxed, over-regulated and should just keep protecting the assets of the mega-rich while we starve to death in shanty towns.