Encouraging Work Through the Social Security Disability Insurance Program

June 19, 2013

by Pamela Villarreal

Chairman Johnson and members of the Subcommittee, I am Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization dedicated to developing and promoting private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector. I welcome the opportunity to share my views about the disincentives to work that exist in the current Social Security disability insurance program.

Over the past three years, more than one million Americans started receiving disability benefits.  Currently 11 million workers and their dependents receive disability payments.  According to the 2013 Trustees Report, $140 billion was spent on disability in 2012, and the current Disability Insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2016.  Social Security Disability expenditures are growing at a faster rate than Social Security retirees’ expenditures.

By 2018, it is expected that nearly 1 in 14 working-age individuals will be receiving disability payments. Just as there will be fewer working age adults to pay for the benefits of Social Security retirees, there will be fewer workers to pay for the benefits of disabled workers. 

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