In December 1968, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 65,630,000 Americans working full time jobs. In that year, 1,295,428 Americans were collecting disability payments. That meant that there were about 51 people working full time jobs for every person on disability.
In January 1997, there were 104,900,000 Americans working full time jobs and 4,385,374 on disability. That meant that there were only 24 people working full time jobs for every person on disability.
In March 2013, there were 115,841,000 Americans working full time jobs and 8,853, 614 people on disability. That means that we currently have only 13 Americans working full time jobs for every person on disability. In the last 16 years, the number of people receiving disability has almost doubled while the number of full time workers only increased by 10.9 million.
To put in another perspective, there are 2,707,120 people living in the city of Chicago. The number of Americans on disability would fill the city of Chicago 3.27 times. Even more telling is that the current population of New York City, as of 2011, is 8,244,910, which means that there are more Americans on disability than in the entire city of New York.
The unfortunate part of all of this is that I know people receiving disability who are perfectly capable of working full time jobs and I know other people who are physically unable to work full time jobs that can’t get disability. It all depends on your doctors and your lawyer. Find the right ones and you can get disability in the blink of an eye. Get the wrong ones and you get turned down time and time again.
I know one lady whose joints were eaten away from cortisone that a pain doctor pumped into her body over a period of time. If she’s on her feet for any length of time, her legs, ankles and feet swell so bad that she’s in danger of compartment syndrome. She also has a brain tumor and has lost part of her eyesight in one eye. To date, she has been turned down for disability.
I know of another lady who has severe back and hip problems. She’s had hip replacement surgery that failed. She can barely walk very far and she can’t sit for any length of time either. She also suffers from fibromyalgia and arthritis. It took her over 7 years and 5 applications before she finally received disability.
Then there is this lady that I know who claims to have fibromyalgia and migraines. She is one of the greatest hypochondriacs there are. She claims she can’t work, but I’ve known her to be able to do the things that she wants to do. She filed once for disability and was granted it right off the bat.
At the current rate of people receiving disability compared to the current job trends, by 2020, there could be as few as 4-5 full time workers for every person on disability. As it is now, the federal system can’t meet all of its financial obligations, let alone paying for double the amount of people on disability. Something has to be done to fix the system so that only those that truly need it get the help and those that don’t need it and are capable of holding down a job, even though they don’t want to, will be forced to do so.