This article in the New York Times is an interesting look at both one individual’s situation while on Social Security disability, as well as the larger question of “return to work.” Some points called out:
- 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.
- Of the 567,395 medical reviews conducted on beneficiaries in 2009, Social Security expects less than 1 percent to leave because of improved health.
- Nicole Maestas, an economist at the Rand Corporation, has examined Social Security data with fellow economist Kathleen J. Mullen, and concluded that in the absence of benefits, about 18 percent of recipients could work and earn at least $12,000 a year, the threshold at which benefits are suspended.
- 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, compared with one in 30 a little over a decade ago. In Arkansas, the figure is one in 12, among the highest in the nation.
- and, the human side: Christopher Howard suffers from herniated discs in his back, knee problems and hepatitis C. As a result, Social Security sends him $574 every month and will until he reaches retirement age — unless he can find a job. Mr. Howard and his wife, Darlene, who is also out of work, scrape by on this. They live in a garage behind the home owned by Mr. Howard’s parents. Inside the forest green shack, which has no running water, they have crammed some shabby furniture and a tiny galley kitchen. Read more…