Monday, February 20, 2012

Jobless Disability Claims soar to record $200B as of January"

In Saturday's "Geographic Areas to Short When the Debt Bomb Goes Off" I said, in passing:
"What I'd really like to see is a list of the counties with the highest levels of Social Security Disability fraud, this is a program ripe for reform."
No kidding. Call these folks the Creatively Disabled.
From the New York Post:
Standing too many months on the unemployment line is driving Americans crazy — literally — and it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

With their unemployment-insurance checks running out, some of the country’s long-term jobless are scrambling to fill the gap by filing claims for mental illness and other disabilities with Social Security — a surge that hobbles taxpayers and making the employment rate look healthier than it should as these people drop out of the job statistics.

“It could be because their health really is getting worse from the stress of being out of work,” says Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at Boston College. “Or it could just be desperation — people trying to make ends meet when other safety nets just aren’t there.”

As of January, the federal government was mailing out disability checks to more than 10.5 million individuals, including 2 million to spouses and children of disabled workers, at a cost of record $200 billion a year, recent research from JPMorgan Chase shows.

The sputtering economy has fueled those ranks. Around 5.3 percent of the population between the ages of 25 and 64 is currently collecting federal disability payments, a jump from 4.5 percent since the economy slid into a recession.

Mental-illness claims, in particular, are surging.
During the recent economic boom, only 33 percent of applicants were claiming mental illness, but that figure has jumped to 43 percent, says Rutledge, citing preliminary results from his latest research.

His research also shows a growing number of men, particularly older, former white-collar workers, instead of the typical blue-collar ones, are applying....MORE
Great minds and all that.