Conservative columnists are newly outraged by Social Security data showing a rise in disability applications. But this isn't Obama's fault. In fact, it's kind of theirs.
Here's the key data, as articulated by conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg.
In 1960, when vastly more Americans were involved in physical labor of some kind, 0.65% of workforce participants between the ages of 18 and 64 were receiving Social Security disability insurance payments. Fifty years later, in a much healthier America that number has grown to 5.6%.
[E]very guy who signs his “disability” application with an “x” is yet another cross the productive people have to bear. It’s one more headache. It’s one more straw on the back of the camel. It gets easier every morning to cross over. I could take the blue pill and fill out the paperwork.
I could sign it with an “x” and tell Doctor Feelgood that “Muh teacher didn’t larn me no goode.” The pencil would whip. My legs would go up on the couch, the check would roll in. You could carry me. It would be just that easy. Until nobody bothers at all…
The author of that piece, Repair_Man_Jack, links to data from the Social Security Administration that includes this graph.
"Jack" got that from this blog, which says of the data: "I'm surprised that the government posted these on their .gov site."
After all, look at that spike in applications! Why so many disability applications?
Before we answer that question, let's look a little closer at the data. What's economically important, for those who worry unduly about such things, is how many disability claims Social Security is awarding. That graph is the bottom line above, but we've broken it out below.