Many on Social Security Disability can but don’t want to work

Why are we demonized for speaking the truth?

truthH/t FOTM’s Trail Dust

More than a year ago, in May 2012, Lance Roberts wrote that Without government largesse many individuals would literally be living on the street.” As much as 1/5 or 22.5% of the average American’s income is dependent on “government transfers.” 

One of those “government transfers” are Social Security Disability benefits.

There are two types of Social Security Disability benefits:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Earned disability benefits for those who have held jobs for significant periods of time and paid at least partially into Social Security before becoming disabled.
  2. Social Security Disability (SSI): Unearned disability benefits for individuals who have petitioned to be classified as disabled, although many of them have never worked and have never paid into Social Security.

Under Obama, the number of Americans claiming disability has surged to the highest levels on record since the beginning of the last recession. What is most notable, however, is when the surge of disability claims began – exactly two years from the beginning of the financial crisis. This was when the 2 years of extended unemployment insurance began to run out.

Unlike welfare, disability isn’t term-limited, and in some cases it’s become permanent unemployment insurance for the unemployable or those who simply refuse to work.

Today, more than 28 million Americans who are of working age have a disability – a level higher than at any other time in recorded history. There are approximately 11 million SSDI or earned recipients and approximately 7 million SSI or unearned recipients.

But how many of those on disability are actually disabled?

Luke Rosiak reports for the Washington Examiner, July 30, 2013, that a study by the Social Security Administration found some disturbing, but unsurprising, attributes of disability recipients:

  • Recipients of federal disability checks often admit that they are capable of working but cannot or will not find a job.
  • Returning to work is not a goal for 71% of the SSDI recipients, and 60% of the SSI recipients.
  • Most have never received significant medical treatment and not seen a doctor about their condition in the last year, even though medical problems are the official reason they don’t work.
  •  Those who acknowledge they’re on disability because they can’t find a job say they make little effort to find one.
  • Of those who say they’re actually looking for a job, most say they’re looking only for part-time jobs that will allow them to keep their disability benefits.
  • The unearned disability recipients are in less pain than their counterparts who had paid into the system. In other words, they are using SSD as a substitute for welfare. These individuals are typically overweight, uneducated and from broken homes.
  • There are practical barriers to weaning recipients off the disability rolls. The jobs they’d be candidates for often don’t provide health insurance, which is essential for those with medical problems, and they’d rather receive the SSD benefits. Many also say they don’t have transportation to work.
  •  72% of the small number of SSDI recipients who started a job while on disability got cash under the table, as did 70% of the small number of SSI recipients who started a job while on disability.
  • 24% of the SSDI recipients lack even GEDs, as do 43% of the SSI recipients.
  • Only 18% of SSDI and 15% of SSI recipients said, during the past 4 weeks, they could not do social activities with family or friends because of their physical health or emotional problems.
  • As many as 96% of SSDI and 91% of SSD recipients admit whatever physical health or mental problems they have do not hinder or limit them from the kind or amount of work or other daily activities they do. In other words, they are not really so disabled they can’t work.
  • 47% of SSDI and 41% of SSD recipients are obese; 30% of both groups are overweight; only 21% of SSDI and 25% of SSD recipients are of normal weight.
  • 28% of SSD recipients had never worked for pay, i.e., they never had a job!
  • Most SSD recipients don’t bother to educate themselves about or avail themselves of government programs to wean them off disability, such as the Plan for Achieving Self-Support, Earned Income Exclusion, and Continued Medicaid Eligibility after they get off disability benefits.
  • Many disability recipients also receive other government welfare benefits: 28% of SSDI and 81% of SSD recipients are on Medicaid; 80% of SSDI and 42% of SSD recipients are on Medicare; 18% of SSDI and 52% of SSD recipients are on food stamps.
  • The lack of a spouse is a significant factor: 54% of SSDI and 88% of SSD recipients are not married.
  • 11% of SSDI and 21% of SSD recipients have been receiving disability benefits for 20 years or more.

Source: Public use file round 4

America’s national debt now exceeds our GDP and is closing in on $17 trillion. It doesn’t take an Albert Einstein to know that our super-extended welfare state cannot continue as it is. Indeed the danger signs are already visible.

In three years, by 2016, the first of the Social Security funds — Social Security Disability — will be in full collapse.

Brian Faler reports for The Washington Post, May 30, 2012:

The disability program pays benefits averaging $1,111 a month, with the money coming from the Social Security payroll tax. The program cost $132 billion last year, more than the combined annual budgets of the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Commerce, Labor, Interior and Justice. That doesn’t include an additional $80 billion spent because disability beneficiaries become eligible for Medicare, regardless of their age, after a two-year waiting period. The disability program is projected to exhaust its trust fund in 2016, according to a Social Security trustees report released last month. Once it runs through its reserve, incoming payroll-tax revenue will cover only 79% of benefits, according to the trustees. Because the plan is barred from running a deficit, aid would have to be cut to match revenue.”

Lastly, since the American Medical Association recently declared obesity to be a “disease,” expect even more Americans to apply for and receive Social Security Disability benefits.


53 responses to “Many on Social Security Disability can but don’t want to work

    • Where are the peer reviewed facts backing up this claim? I am on disability due to MS; and yes I contributed to the system (since the age of 14). I struggle with memory loss, cognitive impairment, limited mobility and strength. I waited 3 years for Social Security to find me legally disabled. So, again my question is where are your peer reviewed facts backing up your claim. I too could claim that only selfish individuals were Republican, but I have a moral and ethical obligation to back up such a claim.


      • The post includes a link to the Examiner story and also a link for the data used in the story. Why don’t you provide a review of the story and data? I’m sure we can count on your moral and ethical obligation to provide a superb analysis of the data editor’s information.


  1. When the fraudulent recipients stop getting their checks, guess what happens. Unlike the Americans we remember, a sizable percentage of these people will take to the streets in a Greek style protest.


  2. I remember watching about two years ago, and it may have been Varney, that said thousands were being taken off of unemployment and put under SSD to make their unemployment numbers look better. This is fraud and certainly not fair to those that paid SS for over 40 years like I did.
    Take those people out and stop sending money to dead people and that fund will remain viable longer. Since LBJ, SS has been the go-to fund to balance the books. The government should pay that money back. Period.
    Each day I see America further away in my rear view mirror.


    • we trusted them with our money,huge mistake. Yes they have stolen it. Every last one of them should be held accountable. (some are still on this earth) The entire govt should be thrown out,removed and replaced with “Constitutional Representatives” they will be guaranteed fast,fair,speedy trials by “We The People.”


  3. but not everyone are criminals you must remember that,


    • Where did I say that? It’s those who are illicit recipients of Soc Sec disability who are taking money from the deserving and dooming the entire program to crash and failure.


      • Yes, there is fraud in this program, just like ALL Gov’t programs! There are also huge numbers of ligit disabled. We should be looking into the causes of these diseases, before these numbers get much larger. These types of articles are nothing but a dissinformation campaign to further divide us. Most of the people that have never paid into the SS system were probably born with MD or some other equally terrible disease. Without programs like this, these people would die. Surely you do not want something like that. Also, the question, that was asked, (is going back to work your goal), is very misleading. It’s hard to make going to work your goal when your just trying to stay alive and to function and appear as normal as possible. No one wants to be an outcast or harrassed by hateful people. Anyone with a disabled child or a dibalitating disease themselves understands this. First we should walk a mile in the other guys shoes.

        There is sooooooo much Gov’t waste and theft and soooooooo many things wrong with out Gov’t. Attacking the disabled will be a loose/loose for the GOP. I suggest that they not seriously go there.


        • Why do you attack me and this post, calling this post “disinformation”? Do you know what the word “disinformation” means? It means lies; untruth. Please point to where in the post are the lies.

          Since when has telling the truth become a bad thing? Let me guess: you are on Social Security Disability, earned or unearned. And you are defensive about it. Why? If you are truly disabled and cannot work, why are you defensive? Would you rather that this study, undertaken by none other than the Social Security Administration in 2009 — i.e., by the Obama administration, not the GOP — had never been done, so that we all remain ignorant about what’s going on? Would you rather that we remain ignorant about the fraud in SSD and other welfare programs, all the better for fraud and waste to continue? Or would you rather that we know the Truth, which is a prerequisite to fixing the problems, so that those who are truly so disabled they cannot work, will continue to be supported?

          What you have done here is to attack the messenger. What you are doing to me is called scapegoating. I don’t appreciate your scapegoating me, calling me names, accusing me of disseminating lies. You have some nerve. You are no longer welcome on this blog.


          • Thanks, Dr. Eowyn!!

            When I think of the hoops we had to jump through to have my husband declared disabled by his employer’s disability insurance program, and the ease with which people SSDI, it makes me want to scream.


          • Just pulling an Alinsky, with bad spelling🙂


            • Thanks, DCG.

              Alas, I believe many — including supposed Conservatives on our side, like Ms. Bad Spelling and other FOTM readers on disability who are staying silent, hoping that if they just ignore it, the problem will go away — have been corrupted by “the system.” That’s how utterly insidious the Left’s schemes are: they corrupt almost everyone. But you and I — and everyone, in the quiet of their conscience — know this is simply unsustainable. Neither party is addressing this, although we can all see that monstrous train bearing down on us. One way to at least ameliorate some of the SSD problem is to grow the economy, which would then “create” the jobs to get the able-bodied off SSD. But of course, Obama the POS isn’t doing that. Americans forfeited our chance to do that with Mitt Romney. Where and how all this will end, no one knows. But all the stats and facts tell us it won’t be long….😦


              • Dear Dr Eowyn . . . what you have written here — “grow the economy” is truly the way out of several of the problems that are nipping at our heels. I just hope that someone will be put in the position to correct that horrible mess before long! Before it becomes to late.


        • This is NOT “attacking the disabled.”

          It’s attacking people who claim “diseases” like “chronic lateness syndrome,” and scams like this:


  4. this scheme set up by the govt with all the fraud in it, is just to help the U.S. go bust quicker.


    • Cloward-Pivens strategy being implemented ; over-whelm the system ’til it collapses. Then the jerk-offs come up with another solution to a problem they caused to begin with , with their good intentions .
      And who gets screwed in the end ?


  5. Love those SSI “crazy checks”… just act strange or have your kids do so, cha-ching!


  6. You may or may not remember my/our specific situation, so I’d like to offer a bit more information, specifically in reference to SSI Disability.

    Quick refresher, i am an MBA grad with more than 20 years of experience, unemployed for early two years. We raise chickens for income and rely on food bank donations which are often expired or moldy food to feed our family, our children. We trade work for food with neighbors or anyone who will allow us to.

    Now it should be mentioned that I have torn ligaments in my ankle which cannot be repaired, a damaged knee, 7 herniated discs in varying places on my spine which cause excruciating pain in my extremities. I am diabetic, with severe neuropathy in my extremities as well, and I suffer from severe carpal tunnel in both hands (post surgery the carpal tunnel has returned). Overall, I’m unable to walk, sit, stand or lay for any significant amount of time without severe pain. Yet I do because I must. That’s how I was raised.

    I once thought that applying for SSI Disability would be an appropriate choice as I have many ailments that make it difficult for me to work. DENIED. I appealed the decision and was denied again.

    I wasn’t interested in spending the rest of my life on disability, I simply wished to take the necessary time to fully recover.

    So, when I see the inflated SSI numbers, I’m irritated because so many have decided to live on a gravy train lifestyle. As someone who has been unemployed during this Greater Depression, I understand why people are doing what they’re doing; however, that doesn’t make it right! It’s time for America to wake up & speak up!! In this day and age folks, it isn’t hard to contact your representatives! Look them up, and send an email, call, write a letter!!! Do something! Like i said, WAKE UP AND SPEAK UP!

    Dr. Eowyn, keep speaking the truth!!! More and more of are listening! All the best!


    • DC,

      I just don’t get it — how someone like you and Mother124’s husband, with medically-certifiable serious physical impairments — are given such grief by the SSD bureaucratic goons, whereas. according to the Social Security Administration’s own study, so many others receive SSD benefits when they actually are not really disabled. Something is very very wrong, and we need to talk about it, and communicate our concerns and outrage to our supposed representatives in Congress.


      • I tend to agree Dr. Eowyn.

        In the early 80’s my Father was involved in a very serious accident. He spent more than half a year in the hospital and was never expected to live the first night. When he did survive, he was told he would never walk again. After years of stubborn dedication he proved his doctors wrong. While inspiring, that portion isn’t so much important here.

        This is though, he was thrown from his motorcycle 500 yards when the gas tank exploded. He broke more bones than most people could name, or likely know that the human body has, dozens and dozens of surgery and confined to a wheelchair he to was DENIED SSD benefits the first through third times he applied.

        Through familial connections my Mother contacted a relative who worked for Social Security. That’s when my folks (God bless their souls, may they both rest in peace) discovered from the relative the secret of SSD. Everyone is turned down the first time they apply the relative revealed to them. Subsequent efforts typically receive the same treatment in hopes that people just give up! Sad really.

        So I and so many others like Mother124’s husband will continue to suffer & will continue to deteriorate because WE are FORCED to work when we are truly disabled. I’d like to believe that many of the people who have recently been approved for SSD are in similar situations as myself. Those who truly needed the program, but I’m smarter than that and know the abuses run long and tall.

        I’ve considered returning to school one more time for a Juris Doctorate. Thought perhaps if I did that, maybe I could be a game changer, but who has the money for that when you’re supposed to be the one providing for your family?!

        It’s ironic really, when I was younger I scoffed at my Dad’s many conspiracy theories about the government. I would tell him “the American people will never stand for such things!”

        Boy was I ever wrong! The government knew the American people wouldn’t stand for such things either, so, they began to take over the liberal media and now we’re bombarded with the Jodi Arias’ and George Zimmerman’s of the world in our news broadcasts instead of government corruption.

        I know one thing for sure though, if this guy somehow cons the American people into a third term, I’m packing up the family and moving to the mountains of a third world country! 😉


  7. To qualify for disability is almost as hard as getting a camel through a needles’ eye. So perhaps the increase in the disabled might have something to do with lousy healthcare, unhealthy food, the depression that comes with unployment and homelessness. Also what work is available? Even college grads. are looking for work.
    Worry about Detroit coming to a town near you to grab the pensions etc. Everybody worked hard to have a pension now look whats going on. The safety net is helping people and helping US citizens is better than funding militants in Syria.


  8. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this excellent post. The sin of “sloth” and “laziness” is being perpetrated with the king’s policies. It is sickening, as well, that only half of the Americans in this country pay taxes. This is outrageous!


  9. The people who could work, but do not want to, are a tiny minority compared to the people who can and want to work, but do not get
    a decent payed job anymore. Ask the leaders of the New World Odor
    why it is like that. I do not know. The only explanation I have is to
    demoralize human beings in order to have a faster depopulation,
    according to the so-called Georgia Guidestones. Amen!


  10. Pingback: America’s Retirement Disaster: 50% of 55-64 y.o. have only $12k in retirement savings |

  11. Pingback: Many on Social Security Disability can but don’t want to work |

  12. i recive ssi i had a job but got fired becuase i got frustraited cuz i jad two ppl at the same time one saying i was doing a good job n the other saying i was too slow then said i was too fast then said i was not doing it right i moithed off to him n left i also was horribul in schopl i have a learning disability along with ptsd and eye sight problums and suffer from anxiety disorder and boaderline bi polar i tried working tried finding a job even after i got ssi but relized i aint fit to work nor have a good temper to deal with others and their demands but i do think plenty of ppl do faulse applications just so they can sit on their asses this is why ssi needs to find those who dont really need it and stop giving them the money and i also have depresson the only persons keeping me from killing myself is my wounderful son and my bf and mom but i know one guy who filed saying he cant read but can and he lives in wi and is reciving ssi from cali because he gets more so he didnt report he moved i think ppl who are fausly getting ssi need to be found asap and they shild do more tests on people to prevent fraud and ilget applivations and i also did recive ssi when i was a child until my ma got her job at mirro but for me to get mine they hadme do tons of iq tests mental test and also im over weight but thats no fault of my own its due to my father wich im not getting into but looseingweight wich im happy about but i agree with you and ppl who know ppl who r gettingssi n can work need to report it just like welfare women who are tpo lazy to work or use it for them self and their drug habbits need to be dropped also n their kids taken away


  13. I need to wear a camera on my shirt to go back to work
    that can be seen online and the person watching online
    does their best to offer me a sense of seurity
    here is what the camera looks like

    Other countries have been given this service and I want our country
    to have this also
    By this not being in place it is destroying my life needlessly
    There are millions of people without work and I need this service
    Please find me someone who will watch online
    There is a medic alert button that if i feel like i am in trouble i push the button, but if i fall and cant push the button only the camera on my cellphone will let the person watching know i am in trouble, please find someone who will watch online
    Obviously I want to pay for this service it should be simple to find someone to watch online
    please find me someone


  14. I have a 43 yr. old son who has several disabilities and has tried many times to get his disability and is always turned down! One thing he has is narcolepsy. Who can work when you don’t know when you are going to to fall asleep?
    And it comes with many other problems. They sure haven’t done a thing to help him! Has IBS, degenerative disc disease, cluster headaches, anxiety, depression, agoraphobia.


  15. I am just wondering, if a person with paranoid schizophrenia who worked for 30yrs until his delusions overcame his ability to work, think and cope with the everyday stresses of his life, if this person were getting SSDI would this be acceptable to the readers here. Even if he is somewhat stabilized but does not work since he will never recover and never knows when the delusions and voices will return and what he may do or where he may run off to. Is this guy just fucking LAZY?


    • tony,

      Do you have problems with reading comprehension? What part ofcan but don’t want to work” (which rules out those clinically diagnosed as schizohrenics) of this post’s title do you not understand?

      But maybe your issue isn’t reading comprehension but “paranoid schizophrenia,” which explains why you think “the readers here” are after you. You need to take your meds.


  16. I think that the people who have never worked should not receive checks. There are very few of the ones I see drawing this that are truly disabled. 99% of them are lazy and a big percentage are young people addicted to drugs. And the taxpayers are funding their habit thanks to government officials. I have to pass a drug test to work and if they can’t pass one they shouldn’t get a damn check.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. I feel that if everybody on disability did a drug test and could not pass. Then cut them off. Imagine the money that could be used for people that really need disability.


      • I had a disc herniated so bad that it is used now in teaching medical students at UA. After surgery the doc said he did the best he could was just to massive. leaving me in constant pain from nerve impingement my back to the toe. Drop foot. What drugs would you look for? I take oxycodone just to manage. Next you’ll say I have a prescription. It’s a fine line and if you where to see me other than dragging my foot and with a limp you would probably say I’m a addict but my doctor would say it a necessary vise. I would love nothing more than to go back to my six figure life. Try not to hate those who need help from time to time.


        • I am to assume you do not use Heroin, Crack, Meth, LSD, ETC.? I never mentioned prescription medicine. I would be more angry if there was somebody on disability that was not on some kind of medication. However, if somebody is on the streets looking for a high, and illegal. I don’t see nothing wrong with my statement.


          • Until we fix the government we can’t fix their programs. The government takes from fundings to fix other issues or to line there pockets. Then put out media of fraud and misuse get people all worked up. Divide and conquer.


            • I totally will not disagree with that John. The money in this country is no telling where it goes. The sick part is you have states like IL. that one of the most expensive states to live in tax wise, but yet if you win the lottery you get an IOU.


        • I’m a 21 yr-old male who has herniated a disc in my spine and I know exactly all the feelings you probably have dealt with. Not just pain, but the mental frustration and exhaustion associated with trying to appear as normal as possible when you’re truly disabled. Sad truth is, most of these readers/commenters and probably the poster as well, are probably healthy but salty about the fact they pay taxes for those in need. I too would love to pick up my career and earn my own living and pay taxes for those who need help as I do… I still have trouble accepting the fact that I am partially disabled and may be for the rest of my life.


          • Please re-read my post. It’s not about LEGITIMATE disability recipients; it’s about those who are able to work but don’t. One would think it’s in YOUR interest that the fraud be uncovered and punished.


          • No, I’m “salty” about the fact that I pay taxes for those not in need.


            • Apparently there are some people that are not ever going to be convinced of this, and most likely, they are the people collecting disability. AND 12YAN: I have a list of problems with me, I’m 42 and have 2 pinched nerves in my back, I hardly can walk on my right leg, but I was brought up to work for a living. 21 I was a I high powered worker lifting heavy equipment with a bad back. My physical and Intuectual disabilities go beyond that. I have Narcolepsy too, ETC.
              DCG, I agree. I don’t think this country will ever know how to spend money wisely.


  17. people get defensive because if we look normal we have to deal with being accused of milking the system. Not that this has ever happened to me. I guess I don’t really pass as normal no matter how much I want to.


  18. How the fuck do you assholes know? There’s very few things lower or more worthless than tea party douche bags. And give the 1776 patriots back their flag. You tea party assholes have nothing in common with them.


    • “How the fuck do you assholes know?”

      Congratulations, genius Paul Michel of Colorado! You just called the Social Security Administration under Obama “assholes” ’cause the source of this post is precisely the SS Administration. At least we “worthless tea party douche bags” aren’t as stupid as you.
      Paul Michel of Parker, CO, is really stupid

      Liked by 1 person

    • How the fuck do us assholes know? Because we can read and interpret data. Apparently all you know is how to use that Alinsky potty mouth of yours rather than debating facts.

      And the flag is ours, too. ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ.

      Liked by 1 person

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