For many Americans, collecting disability has become a career, said Michael Barone. Over the past 50 years, the number of people receiving benefits from the Social Security disability program—created to help Americans who are too sick to work—has rocketed from 455,000 to 8.6 million. An incredible 5.6 percent of adults are now getting disability checks, with a cost to taxpayers of $130 billion a year. The cause of this disability epidemic is simple: In recent years, the government has relaxed its disability standards, and now readily accepts such unverifiable ailments as “mood disorders,” depression, and back, knee, and joint pain. Today, almost 50 percent of disability payments are going to people who claim pain or mental states that no doctor can observe or disprove. “In other words, many people are gaming or defrauding the system.” In 2010 and 2011, 1,730,000 new jobs were created—and 790,000 people went on disability. Many of these people will never rejoin the workforce, and will never enjoy “the satisfaction of earned success from honest work.” Can our indebted nation continue to pay millions of adults not to work?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Why insects are the future of food
- How to rescue the American family and fix the broken school system in one fell swoop
Subscribe to the Week