In Ohio, the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI) was paying benefits to 378,923 individuals in 2012, or about 5.3 percent of the state’s population at the time. This is higher than the national average of 4.7 percent, and not surprising, given the significant history of industrial jobs, like heavy manufacturing and coal mining, in the state.
One would suspect that many of those disabled suffered various kinds of workplace injuries that either disabled them in a single accident, or slowly built up over the years, and eventually forced them out of their job. They applied for and received SSDI after demonstrating with medical evidence that they could no longer work.
Nationwide, SSDI pays benefits to more than 10 million disabled workers every month, which costs the program approximately $10 billion. Many of these recipients suffer chronic, progressive diseases or conditions like heart or lung disease and no longer have the physical endurance to maintain eight-hour days or 40-hour weeks.
However, a reasonable number could return to some degree of gainful employment. Among the millions of disabled, a great may possess valuable skills, developed over a lifetime of working.
Sadly, much of that potential is ignored today. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a return to work program, it is relatively limited. The SSA, like many elements of government, has been forced to cut back programs and reduce staff.
The benefits of helping disabled workers return to the workforce and eventually leave the SSDI program would be broad. It would both reduce the amount of benefits paid out and would allow those workers a potentially greater income than SSDI can provide.
Source: Workerscompensation.com, “Are disabled workers a significant proportion of the working-age population?” Terry Bogyo, April 24, 2014