Many Portland workers rely on Social Security Disability payments to help support their families after suffering a disabling medical condition or injury. Approximately 8.2 million Americans collected $115 billion in Social Security Disability payments last year. These numbers are up from 5 million Social Security Disability recipients approximately a decade ago, The New York Times reports.
These numbers indicate that approximately one in every 21 Americans between ages 25 to 64 collects disability payments. These payments are typically based on a worker’s earning history and qualify a beneficiary’s family for Medicare insurance benefits after two years. These essential services help many American workers weather their health problems while still supporting their dependents.
Although many people wrongly characterize Social Security recipients as lazy malingerers, many economists note that the majority of applicants who are denied benefits fail to return to work because of their medical problems or lack of marketable skills.
“In an atmosphere in which there is a concern about fiscal problems, it’s always easy to point the finger at groups and say, ‘These people should be working,’ ” said an economist at the University of Michigan, “exaggerating the degree to which the disability insurance program is broken.”
The Social Security program also has incentives to help disability beneficiaries return to work if they able to do so, The New York Times reports. A disabled worker’s benefits are not threatened by his or her income that is earned in the first nine months after starting a job. Workers are also entitled to receive full benefits if their income falls below $1,000 a month during the next three years.
In our next post, we will discuss the success of the “return to work” incentives and possible options for disabled workers.
Source: The New York Times, “Disabled, but looking for Work,” Motoko Rich, 4/6/11