SSA’s Return to Work Programs Challenged by Economy

Social Security has long had programs to help ease disabled people on its benefits rolls back toard employment. How is it faring in today’s challenging economy and job market? Today’s New York Times explores the topic in this well researched article:

“Programs intended to steer people with more moderate disabilities back into jobs have managed to take only a small sliver of beneficiaries off the Social Security rolls. Yet, at a time when employers are struggling to create spots for the 13.5 million people actively looking for jobs, helping people like Mr. Howard find employment — or keeping them working in the first place — is becoming increasingly important to the nation’s fiscal health…

“For the last five years, Social Security has paid out more in benefits to disabled workers than it has taken in from payroll taxes. Government actuaries forecast that the disability trust fund will run out of money by 2018…along with monthly checks that are based on the worker’s earnings history, beneficiaries generally qualify for Medicare — otherwise reserved for those over 65 — two years after being admitted to the disability rolls. There are reasons for the increase in beneficiaries.” Baby boomers are hitting the age when health starts to deteriorate, and there are more mental illnesses being claimed as disabling.

“About 8.2 million people collected disabled worker benefits totaling $115 billion last year, up from 5 million a decade earlier. About one in 21 Americans from age 25 to 64 receive the benefit, according to an analysis of Social Security data by Prof. Mark G. Duggan, an economist at the University of Maryland. See entire article here: