Political  Calculations

We were inspired by Climateer Investing's summary of the econoblogosphere's ongoing analysis of the increasing level of disability fraud in the U.S., where hundreds of thousands of people would appear to be ending up after their extended unemployment insurance benefits expire, to ask two new questions: which Americans are benefiting from the fraud and how are they getting away with it?

To answer the first question, we started with the annual age distribution data that the Social Security Administration publishes on the number and age of that agency's disability benefit recipients. Starting with the pre-recession years of 2006 and 2007, the recession years of 2008 and 2009, as well as the post-recession years of 2010 and 2011, we created the following chart showing the number of people for each age recorded by Social Security for each year:

Age Distribution of Social Security Disability Benefit Recipients, 2006-2011

We see that nearly 90% of the increase in the number of people claiming disability benefits from Social Security has taken place for people Age 46 or older, with that increase outnumbering the increase in younger individuals by a factor of nearly 10 to 1.


Political Calculations

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