[T]he ticking time bomb of entitlement reform is Social Security’s Disability Insurance Fund…The number of people collecting disability benefits has soared, especially in recent years, to almost 11 million in June, up from 2.7 million in 1970. The 2012 price tag was $140 billion, up eightfold, adjusted for inflation, from 1970.
A new 50-year-old enrollee — the mean age of those who go on disability — will collect to age 66, at which time he or she will transfer to regular Social Security. The present value of disability-insurance benefits, plus Medicare costs, per new disabled worker is more than $300,000.
More than 20 states today try to shift people from their welfare and Medicaid rolls onto disability insurance and Medicare, which are fully paid for by the federal government. Some unions help their members obtain disability insurance—for instance, when companies are downsizing and laying off workers.