Numbers of Disability Applicants Decline

In this Los Angeles Times article, writer Michael Hiltzik reports that the number of people applying for disability has actually started to decline, in line with demographic actuarial expectations.

“Disability recipients long have been the punching bags for a particularly ill-informed and uncompassionate wing of the anti-Social Security crowd. (Misinformed journalists haven’t helped matters.)

“The years ahead are unlikely to closely resemble the preceding decades. The data…all point to substantially slower program growth.

“A just-released report by Social Security’s Technical Panel, a blue-ribbon group that periodically analyzes program data and makes recommendations to the Social Security trustees, validates what many advocates of the disabled have been saying: the recent sharp increase in disability rolls, which has fueled congressional conservatives’ attacks on the program, is over. In fact, disability rolls are expected to show their first year-over-year decline “in more than 30 years.”

“Moreover, the panel says, the previous increase in disability rolls had nothing to do with malingerers and layabouts, as conservatives loved to claim; its sources were well understood, and had everything to do with America’s demographics, the economy and changes in the disability program rules approved by Congress in the 1980s.”