Looming Collapse of SSDI--What It Means

The Social Security Disability Income program will be broke within two years, even though each and every worker pays $750 a year into it.

An extremely well written article from David Langham graces our Blogwire pages today. In it he recounts for us the looming financial collapse of the Social Security Disability Income program, or SSDI. Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims and Division of Administrative Hearings. Within this jurist’s missive he provides one of the best breakdowns that I have ever read concerning the financial issues that program faces. Bottom line? SSDI now supports over 11,000,000 people, and is projected to be broke within two years. Each and every full time worker in this country needs to cough up $750 a year just to maintain this entitlement program at its current levels (and it has grown 73% since 2000, so good luck with that). Langham goes into excellent detail as to the causes of this unprecedented growth. There are a good number of contributing factors, including population growth, aging population, more working women eligible for the program, and expanded qualifications for disability. However, there is one postulation he did not make. That is the possibility that intentionally overworked Social Security Disability Administrative Law Judges find it much easier to approve cases than to deny them. I once heard of one judge indicating as much, saying that when he approves an application, it simply takes his signature. When he denies one, it requires many written pages of justification. Approval in the face of an overwhelming workload, it would seem, is the path of least resistance. One other very interesting tidbit that Langham provides: at one point during the economic downturn, an estimated 117,000 Americans "double dipped", drawing simultaneous payments from both unemployment and SSDI. With one program dedicated to assisting people who cannot find work, and the other designed to support those who cannot work, how can that possibly be? So we find ourselves with another bloated and overwhelmed government program screaming towards financial crisis, and a generally oblivious public will soon awaken (once again) to the fact that there is no such thing as a "lock box" or "government trust fund". The money is gone. We've spent it all on underwear for the illegals streaming across our southern border. Not to fear, however, for I have a solution for this mess. SSDI should hold a fundraising bake sale. The pivotal bake sale has for decades been the go to solution for those programs in need of a cash infusion. Schools and churches have used them. Rush Limbaugh once famously orchestrated one in the 1990's for a listener named Dan who couldn't afford his subscription newsletter. Limbaugh told him to hold a bake sale, and over 100,000 people ultimately flooded downtown Fort Collins, CO the day of "Dan's Bake Sale". I believe some misguided people have even used them in some perverted "guns for cookies" exchange program. That endeavor failed miserably when they were robbed at gunpoint and someone stole their cookies. Seems they should have also traded for some ammo. So why not an SSDI bake sale? Think of the pure numbers. There are 11,000,000 people in the program, presumably with a great deal of free time on their hands. If they all fire up their ovens and contribute to the effort, we're talking one crapload of cookies and other baked goods available for sale. Granted, there are people receiving SSDI that are completely disabled, and would not be able to contribute to the effort, but many would still be able to do so. There was the woman who once blasted me in my blog for using the word "entitlement". She told me how difficult it was for her to get SSDI, and explained how she was entitled to it - without using the word entitled, of course. Her blog and Facebook page told us she was an active real estate agent, and owned a tax preparation service as well as a legal documents preparation firm. She could probably cough up some cookies, if she can get enough time away from her day jobs and cashing her disability checks. And of course, we have the 117,000 people who collected unemployment while on disability. We can safely presume if they are able to work, they are able to bake. And since they are on unemployment, they have the time. So for sake of conjecture, let’s say that one half of the people on SSDI would have the ability for a short duration to make cookies or baked goods for one mammoth SSDI “Going Out of Business” Bake Sale. That means with 5.5 million people, baking, say 6 dozen cookies each, and selling them for $5 a dozen (this is a fundraiser, after all), we could raise $165,000,000 in a single afternoon, less location and promotion expenses. As far as location, I figure we could use Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the Tampa Bay Ray’s baseball team plays. There is ample parking, and the seats are almost always empty. Plenty of room for a ginormous bake sale. Now, with the current SSDI burn rate of $12.4 billion a month, or $413,333,333.33 a day, the bake sale would only raise enough to fund the program for an additional 9 ½ hours. But hey, it’s a start, and I haven’t even yet broached my idea of the SSDI “Going Out of Business Car Wash”.

Bob Wilson

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Bob Wilson

Bob Wilson is a founding partner, president and CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, based in Sarasota, Fla. He has presented at seminars and conferences on a variety of topics, related to both technology within the workers' compensation industry and bettering the workers' comp system through improved employee/employer relations and claims management techniques.


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