States’ control over qualification for Social Security Disability Insurance is contributing to a rapid depletion of funds from the federal benefit program, which could become insolvent in just a few years, according to a new report.
Enrolment in the SSDI has increased sharply over the last decade, from 6.6 million beneficiaries in 2000 to 10.2 million in 2010, the Wall Street Journal reports. Though paid out through federal funds, state and local officials have a large say in who can qualify for the program. As a result, state officials have little incentive to keep the number of SSDI beneficiaries low. In some areas, such as New Jersey, Wyoming or Puerto Rico, more than half of those who apply for SSDI benefits are approved, according to the Journal.
Economic factors also have contributed to the dwindling of SSDI funds. As more people become unemployed, more people apply for disability benefits, according to the Journal. Government auditors say that, without any change to the program, the SSDI program will be out of money in four to seven years, the Journal reports.