A record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program.
This is straining already-stretched government finances while posing a long-term economic threat by creating an ever-growing pool of permanently dependent working-age Americans.
Since the recession ended in June 2009, the number of people who’ve signed up for disability benefits is twice the job growth figure. In just the first four months of this year, 539,000 joined the disability rolls and more than 725,000 put in applications.
As a result, by April there were 10.8 million people on disability, according to Social Security Administration data released this week. Even after accounting for all those who’ve left the program — mainly because they hit retirement age or died — that’s up 53% from a decade ago.