The number of Americans receiving Social Security disability payments has increased 20 percent since President Barack Obama took office and the influx of new recipients has pushed the program close to insolvency.
The annual deficit in the Social Security Disability Trust Fund hit $31.49 billion in fiscal 2013 and the remaining balance of $100.49 billion in the fund will be depleted by 2016, the Social Security Administration predicts.
“At the time this program began we were much more of a blue collar, manual labor society, so there was some real need for it. Today, we are a lot more white collar, we have better medicine and devices to assist the disabled, but those receiving benefits have nonetheless exploded,” Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute, told Newsmax.
DeHaven noted that applications for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, tend to increase during recessionary periods, but he said the program’s expenditures were an estimated $144 billion this year, nearly double what they were a decade ago.
When Obama took office there were over 7.4 million workers on disability. The Social Security Administration announced in October that the number is now more than 8.9 million, a 20 percent jump. Another 2 million spouses and children of disabled workers also receive SSDI benefits, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to some 10.9 million Americans.
The fund has run a deficit every year since Obama took office, after 15 straight years of surpluses. In the 57-year history of the program, there have been 19 years where the trust fund ran a deficit, five of them under the current president.
Since Obama took office, the annual deficits in the disability trust fund totaled $8.46 billion in fiscal 2009; $20.83 billion in 2010; $25.26 billion in 2011; and $29.70 billion in 2012.
Adding in the fiscal 2013 deficit of $31.49 billion brings the program’s red ink under Obama to $115 billion, according to SSA.