One of Few Growing Demographics in RI
We can’t all game the system to retire at any age with a public-sector disability pension, but the Social Security Administration does offer some benefits, and the number of Rhode Islanders receiving them has been growing enormously:
In 2001, there were about 25,000 Rhode Islanders receiving benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI.
By 2010, the figure had grown to more than 34,000 — a number about equal to the entire population of Cumberland.
Meanwhile, over the same period, the overall number of Social Security beneficiaries in Rhode Island — including those collecting retirement benefits, survivor benefits and disability benefits — grew by only about 6 percent, to 203,660, Social Security Administration figures show.
The “only” in that last sentence seems a bit misplaced when one considers that the state’s overall population growth effectively remained nil. Approximately one in five Rhode Islanders are receiving Social Security benefits, with about one in six of them of the disability sort. How is a society supposed to cohere and function with such high numbers of public dependents?
And don’t be distracted by the term “disability”:
… Because of high unemployment, more people are turning to Social Security disability as a source of income, said Czarnowski, a retired Social Security official who runs Czarnowski Consulting, a Social Security consulting firm in Norfolk, Mass.
In better times, some people worked “despite their impairments because it [made] sense for them economically,” he said. But amid the recession, and its persistently high rate of long-term unemployment, many such workers lost their jobs, could not find other work, exhausted their extended unemployment benefits, and turned to SSDI as a kind of last resort, he indicated.
One thinks of the fact that our state’s unemployment numbers are decreasing mainly because our workforce is shrinking; how many of those discouraged job seekers have merely opted for a public assistance existence? Moreover, one wonders what extra incentive it’s going to take to break the economic inertia that will keep them from reentering the market.