Quick … when was the last time the number of Americans receiving disability benefits decreased in a given month? Was it sometime in the last year, maybe? Five years? Ten years? Fifteen years, perhaps?
Nope. The last time this pool of dependents declined month-to-month was all the way back in January 1997 – the first month of former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s second term in office. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a string of 196 consecutive months (more than 16 years) spanning three presidential administrations.
As it stands now, a record 10.9 million Americans are collecting monthly disability checks from the federal government. Another 8.3 million are drawing supplemental security income payments. As a result of this unsustainably upward trajectory, the trust fund which administers theses accounts will deplete its reserves within the next three years.
What happens then? One of two things. Reduced benefits or bigger deficits.
Unless of course the federal government decides to do the hard work of redefining disabilities back to where they were decades ago – you know, before you could parlay your social anxiety and persistent fatigue into a steady paycheck from the dependency incentivizers.
Oh, and it’s worth noting this is just a preview of coming attractions, as Medicare and Social Security are set to deplete their trust funds in 2024 and 2035, respectively.