A new report from a Social Security Administration committee suggests that the growth in Social Security Disability recipients is over, and seeks to explain the cause for the growth in the first place. These findings come as Congress continues to grapple with how to keep the SSD program’s trust fund from running out in 2016.
As summarized in the Los Angeles Times, the report notes that the number of people receiving SSD benefits has grown significantly since the late 1980s. Some critics claim that much of the growth is due to lazy people who invent or exaggerate disabilities to avoid work. But the reality is quite different, according to SSA’s Technical Panel, a group of academics and experts in the field of retirement.
The panel concluded that the largest single reason for the increase in SSD’s rolls is that Congress recognized in the 1980s that mental illness is real, and can seriously impact a sufferer’s ability to earn an income. Lawmakers expanded the definition of disability to include many psychological and neurological conditions, thus increasing the number of people who potentially qualified for benefits.
The resulting increase in new SSD recipients appears to have flattened. The Technical Panel report expects the next year-over-year numbers to show a decline for the first time in more than 30 years.
As we have said before in this blog, SSD is facing a financial crisis, with its trust fund due to run out of money sometime next year. If not fixed in time, this would lead to a significant cut in benefits for disabled people and their dependents in Missouri.