Why Is the White House Claiming Social Security Disability Is Wasteful?

The Washington Post recently published an article examining the White House’s views on Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). The Post’s article included an excerpt from White House Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney’s appearance on Face the Nation where he called the SSDI program wasteful.

Is a Rise in the Number of Social Security Disability Beneficiaries the Result of Wastefulness?

Is the White House accurate in calling the Social Security disability (SSD) program wasteful, or is this administration mistakenly blaming an increase in the number of SSD beneficiaries on wastefulness? According to data in the Post report, it appears the White House is mistaken in calling the SSD program wasteful.

As of this writing, 17 percent of Social Security beneficiaries are disabled workers and their dependents. In addition, prior to President Obama taking office, there were 9.3 million Social Security disability beneficiaries. That number grew to a peak of 11 million in 2013 before dropping down to 10.6 million in 2016. The Post article points to the economic downturn during that time as the reason for the spike in the number of Social Security disability beneficiaries.

The number of Social Security disability beneficiaries grew significantly prior to Obama’s time in office, increasing from 6 million in 1996 to 9.3 million in 2008. Factors that contributed to SSD’s growth during that stretch include the Baby Boomer generation reaching their peak disability years and an increasing number of women entering the workforce and becoming eligible for SSD.

For more information about how the SSDI program works, including why reports of Social Security disability fraud are often inaccurately portrayed as widespread, check out the video below and continue following our blog.



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