NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Disability Fund Running Dry

January 19, 2015

The federal disability fund is in trouble, with payments rising year to year as more workers enter the program.

The Wall Street Journal highlights what has happened to the disability fund over the years:

  • In 1990, just one of every 10 Social Security dollars went towards disability payments. Today, one in every five dollars go to disability.
  • From 1990 to 2008, the number of Americans receiving disability payments doubled.
  • Since 2008, disability payments have risen 32 percent.
  • During President Obama's time in office, the disability rolls have risen 21 percent.

Does this mean more Americans are disabled? The Wall Street Journal says that just one-third of the rise in disability can be attributed to the population's size and health. It also notes that the disability criteria have not been updated for more than three decades, "despite advances in medicine and rehabilitation."

Since 2009, disability payments have outpaced disability fund revenues, and the program needs reform. NCPA Senior Fellow Pam Villarreal has reported on the unsustainable fund before, noting that the chance of a disability recipient ever leaving the program and returning to full-time work is less than 1 percent.

Source: "Disabling a Budget Con," Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2015. 


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues