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Report Emphasizes Importance of Social Security Disability Insurance

November 4, 2012

There’s recently been a lot of attention on Social Security disability insurance payments, and opponents of the program have become increasingly vocal.  However, the program recently received a boost from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

According to the Center, the Social Security Disability Insurance program provides critical benefits to American workers who are injured, fall ill, and are therefore unable to perform work that can earn them an income.

There has been a lot of criticism recently that spending on Social Security Disability Insurance has gone out of control, but the report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that the increase in spending is not due to mismanagement, but due to an increase in women’s employment, the aging American population, an increasing retirement age among workers as well as the recent economic downturn.

For instance, in December 2011, an estimated 8.6 million people received Social Security disability worker benefits.  According to statistics, the numbers of disabled American workers has increased by at least 3 times since 1980.  However, the increase in the population of people between 20 and 64 – typically considered a productive population – has increased at a much lower rate.  These demographic factors have increased payments from the program.

Some critics also insist that Social Security disability insurance payments should actually be declining, because work is not as physical as it used to be.  However, the fact is that many Americans continue to work in jobs that are very physically demanding, and have a risk of physical injury.  For instance, more than 25% of jobs performed by Americans between the age of 58 and 54 were found to be physically challenging.  Almost 50% of these involved challenging working conditions like cramped areas, toxic exposure and exposure to the elements that increased worker injury risks.

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