ABC 22 News Team
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A Disabled Nation: Looking into Tax Dollars
UNDATED -- Chances are very good you know someone who receives government disability benefits. That government program is one of the fastest growing in all of federal government. In fact, it's grown by more than 9 times in just 10 years.
Our national correspondent Kristine Frazao takes a look at what this means for those who receive the benefits and for tax payers who foot the bill.
According to Mark Schumann, a disability benefits recipient, "you can go from living on the street to living in a house. I can prepare my own food. I have a bed I can go to every night. There's just a multitude of things it changes."
After years of lifting heavy boxes in the meat department of a grocery store, he became physically unable to work.
"They put a lot of stress on me. They eliminated a couple of positions to where I had to do three jobs."
So for the last 3 years, he's gotten $920 a month from the federal government, and he's not alone.
May marked the 196th month in a row that the number of US workers collection disability went up.
To put this in perspective, if all the disability recipients were grouped together in one state, it would actually be the 8th most populous state in the country with 10.9 million people.
Economist Darius Irani says it's because more people's unemployment benefits have run out and they need a different subsidy.
Irani states, "what we are seeing in the numbers exploding are individuals who are out of work due to the recession are now applying for a disability."
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the trend has been largely due to the aging baby boomer population.
But for David Williams, it's a troubling trend, as it means more tax payer dollars are going to foot the bill.
Williams notes, "whenever you have a government program where there are fewer workers and more recipients, it's a recipe for fiscal disaster and this is where the program is going right now."
It's a means of survival for some, but like most things, it comes at a heavy price.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by the year 2022, the number of Americans between 20 and 64 who receive disability benefits will increase to about 5% of the population.
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