A record number of Americans are now receiving federal disability benefits. Recent records show that 8.8 million people are receiving monthly disability checks, which average around $1100, from The Social Security Administration. The data also revealed that administration paid out over $773 billion in benefits after receiving only $725 billion. This left a deficit of nearly $48 billion.
The Social Security Administration has not run at a surplus since 2009. There are two different Social Security Trust Funds. The DI fund covers those who are disabled and unable to work. The OASI fund covers retirees and their families or their surviving family members if they are deceased. CNS News reports how a deficit in these two funds affects the national debt:
“The trust funds are required by law to hand over all surplus revenues to the Treasury and the Treasury then provides ‘special issue’ non-marketable bonds—essentially electronic IOUs—to the trust funds in return for the cash. These ‘IOUs’ become part of the national debt. When the Treasury pays ‘interest’ that increases the value of the Social Security Trust Funds it does so by increasing the number of IOUs it owes the trust funds. When the Social Security program runs a net cash flow deficit, as it has in the last three fiscal years, the Treasury needs to borrow cash from the ‘public’ to keep the program funded.”
The increase in applicants seeking to receive disability benefits has led to scrutiny and criticism of the disability application and approval process. The criticism prompted congressional staff to review 300 cases which were awarded benefits. The Associated Press reported in September that the review committee discovered that many applications were approved without the prescribed prerequisites being met. More than a quarter of the cases reviewed provided adequate medical evidence that the applicant was indeed disabled.