Social Security Disability enrollment for workers, excluding disabled children and disabled widow(er)s, is growing much faster than the working age population.
- Since 1991, workers on disability increased almost 170 percent, from 3,194,938 to 8,575,544
- In the same period, the population between 18-64 increased only 26 percent, from 155,263,000 to 196,263,504
The increase is occurring despite the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990 prohibiting employment discrimination and requiring businesses to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.
While the average monthly disability benefit between 2005 and 2010 was only $1,139, enrollment in disability opens doors to other entitlement programs. Most enrollees gain Medicare eligibility after 24 month on disability, and may also qualify for federal student loan forgiveness. Enrollees that are approved for SSDI can also be eligible for Medicaid in their state and are likely to receive food stamps and subsidized housing. In fact, workers receiving disability payments are discouraged from even part time work; if enrollees earn more than $1,040 per month they lose access to
all the benefits described above.
The substantial benefit loss above an income of $1,040 encourages workers to stay on disability, and has contributed to the out of proportion disability enrollment growth.