The importance and value of the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program for the average American worker can be measured quite simply. Give a call to an insurance agent and ask them what a long-term disability policy would cost. You might be shocked to find a price in the ballpark of an expensive car payment or a modest mortgage payment.
You would likely decide that you could not afford such an additional monthly payment. So it is a good thing that Social Security disability is there in the unhappy event that you become disabled.
While many complain about the expense of the program, the SSDI program is among the strictest of any advanced nations disability programs and 6 out of 10 applicants are denied. Many workers with valid disabling conditions find they still need the assistance of a lawyer to deal with the complexities of the application process.
The desperate need of many of those on the program is demonstrated by the fact that most of those on disability earned very little prior to obtaining benefits, with one analysis finding that only 15 percent earned more than $1,000 per month.
And those who are denied benefits from the program do not have much earning capacity, and only about 25 percent of those denied benefits manage to make more than the earning limits for those on the program.
Additionally, many beneficiaries on the program have more than one medical condition that compromises their ability to work. And 20 percent die within five years of obtaining benefits.
Any politician who pretends that those on the program are able to work and support themselves clearly knows very little about the program.
Source: americanprogress.org, "Social Security Disability Insurance: A Bedrock of Security for American Workers," Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad, June 16, 2015