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.
SSDI is simply more “popular” than it used to be. Simply look at the ads for personal injury lawyers and see what type of clients is being sought. Interestingly, about 80% of applicants are denied at the first step of the process. On appeal, about 80% of those denied succeed. My info is about 10 years old, so I may be somewhat off. But the number who succeed on appeal is still way off statistically.
The process is somewhat swayed by politics. If you can get a Congressman to write a letter of inquiry, the file is marked “PI”. The abbreviation is supposed to be for “Political Inquiry”. I know that was the case in the Boston office, I assume it is a national practice.
It’s a matter of personal attitude. I work with a man who was on SSDI, but wanted to do more for his family and was able to move from a part time position while still on SSDI to a full time position and leave SSDI. He has a bone disease and has been in a wheelchair since he was a young child and to me he’s one of the folks that IS THE REASON for SSDI (in my opinion). I give him kudos for wanting to work full time and provide for his family (while he still can).
Meanwhile I personally know at least three people receiving SSDI benefits that are basically able-bodied and could be working, but choose not to.
Whether it’s easy to obtain SSDI benefits or not.. I have no idea. But from what I see, it’s a matter of attitude.
Unfortunately this is another example in the troubling category of the dwindling producing class funding the growing non-producing class. Do we need (and fund)safety nets….yes. Are they abused…yes. Big mama govt. is enabling people to disable themselves. Hussein in the White House is a strong advocate of transferring wealth. Let us hope there is still some wealth left for the people who produce it.
The real scandal is the “crazy checks” going to children. Or really to the parents. We pay twice. First the checks and second the “special ed” in the schools. Plus food stamps, babysitters the free apartment, etc.