As a growing chorus of voices continues to decry the growth of the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program, it is easy to get lost in the numbers. Yes, the program has grown and yes, the trust fund has been exhausted. Too often, underlying the outrage is the implication that the program has grown only because of fraud. If we could only kick off all the fraudulent recipients, all of our problems would be solved.
The issue is larger than that, however, and Congress needs to recognize it really only has two options. Increase payroll taxes to adequately fund SSDI, or decrease the edibility for the program. Sadly, both of those decisions require judgment and adult-like behavior, something Congress is increasingly unwilling to do.
Who exactly, is on SSDI? The USA Today provides one example. A man whose farm was destroyed in Kentucky’s Menifee County by a tornado last year is now on SSDI. He was caught by the tornado and thrown 300 feet through the air after being sucked from the front door of his home.
He woke up with his jaw and shoulder smashed and his farm in complete ruins. The body of his girlfriend of 17 years was found the next day, her tennis shoe protruding from the debris of his home.
The tornado did not receive as much media coverage as the horrific Joplin, MO storm that killed 158, injured 1,100 and caused $2.2 billion in damage. Nonetheless, the Kentucky tornado killed 35 people and caused $40 million in damage to a mostly rural county. And as one resident described it, “It’s been a tough year.”
The man’s home and vehicles were insured and replaced, but as he attempts to rebuild his farm, he has to deal with memory loss and constant head and backaches caused by his injuries. He also deals with the loss of his girlfriend.
Source: USA Today, “A year later, Ky. farmers cope with tornado scars,” Chris Kenning, March 3, 2013