The ranks of Americans collecting Social Security Disability Insurance payments have swelled dramatically in recent years, and that may be because more people are turning to the program when they can’t find work, the Wall Street Journal reports. Some 10.6 million Americans are now on the program, compared to 7.2 million in 2002. And one recent study shows that the jobless are much more likely to enter the program after they’ve used up their unemployment benefits.
SSDI is supposed to help people who are too injured to work, but the Journal suspects some are using it as secondary unemployment. For example, it spoke to one 62-year-old with hearing aids that had never prevented her from working before who’d turned to it when unable to find a job. The program’s administrator sees the phenomenon as natural. “When employment is good … people with impairments, like everyone else, find it easier to find a job,” he told Congress this month.