Politicians often discuss the "welfare state" or the "entitlement society" that they believe America is unwittingly sinking in to, but the latest statistics from the Social Security Administration provide a disturbingly clear illustration of just how far we have come.
In June of 1992, there were about 35.5 people working for each person who accepted disability checks. By May of 2012, that dynamic had shifted so drastically that there are now roughly only 16.3 people working for each person accepting the checks, according to the Social Security Administration.
To put that in perspective, the number of beneficiaries has grown so large that it now exceeds the population of New York City.
To give you some raw numbers, in June of 1992, there were 118,419,000 people employed in the United States and 3,334,333 workers accepting federal disability payments. By May of 2012, there were 142,287,000 people employed in the United States, and 8,707,185 people accepting disability payments.
As you can see, we barely have more jobs than we did in 1992, but have more than doubled the number of people accepting benefits.
But that's not all.
CNS News, which broke the story Monday, notes that it isn't only the disabled workers who accept the disability checks. For many, both spouses and children also receive supplementary income, and if you factor in their numbers, a staggering total of 10,806,335 people accepted disability payments in May.
The average check for a disabled worker was $1,111.18, while spouses generally received close to $298.41, and children $330.98.
It isn't surprising, then, that the Social Security System’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund has run deficits for each of the last three fiscal years. CNS News writes: "In fiscal 2009, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund deficit was $8.5 billion. In fiscal 2010, it was $20.8 billion. And in fiscal 2011, it was $25.3 billion."
The official website for disability benefits also advertises "other benefits you may be able to get." Among them are medicare, low-income medicare (where the state could cover your premiums, deductibles, and other "out of pocket" expenses), and food stamps. Children receive benefits until they are 18, but can continue receiving if they go to school full-time by age 19 or become disabled by the time they are 22. The child can also receive benefits during a fourth month vacation period, if they plan to go back to school at the end of it. The site also clarifies that once you hit retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits.
Doug Powers of Michelle Malkin's website notes that it also isn't rare for people to apply for disability after their long-term unemployment benefits run out.
Which leaves many asking: do we really have more than 8 million people who physically cannot work in this country, or are people taking advantage of benefits rightly set aside for the disabled?
The government's definition of the term is rather loose: “We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if: You cannot do work that you did before; we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.”
Click here for a list of impairments that qualify.
One Twitter user wrote of the statistics: "We ARE Europe," lamenting our seeming transition to an entitlement society. Whether or not that's true, one thing is certain: between ever-increasing beneficiaries and extremely slow growth in the sector that provides for them, the situation is mathematically unsustainable.
(H/T: CNS News)