Is the Social Security System Becoming the New Welfare?

I came across an interesting article from NPR that other day titled Unfit For Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America.

It’s definitely worth a read.

While I cannot speak for the nation as a whole, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in my small area. I’ve noticed a rise in multi-generational Disability recipients.

People I have known for years go on SSD or SSI for various reasons. Within a span of months or years I’ve watched their adult children join the program…

…And now I’m seeing the grandchildren of the original applicants being added to the Social Security program.

While some of these people have obvious disabilities (working in a factory or simply standing on your feet all day can damage the body over time), the newer ones I’m seeing have claims that aren’t near as clear.

I’m witnessing bright, active children being placed on Disability because they are considered “learning deficient.”

I didn’t think anything about this until I encountered a young man I’ll call Tim. Tim had been placed on Disability by his parents when he was a child; he had been taught that he’d never be able to hold down a job, so he drifted through life with his young wife who was also on Disability (I don’t know the reason she received it).

Tim moved in with a friend of mine when his marriage deteriorated. My friend started asking questions, approaching me with the puzzle: he could find no real reason why this active, intelligent man should be considered disabled. Would I get to know the guy and make my own decision?

I talked to Tim but resolved to stay out of it. I was still a bit bitter over the lack of help I’d received when I suffered an injury several years back and knew that I was biased.

I watched, however. My friend began to point out to Tim that he may not be as disabled as he’d been led to believe. I don’t know the exact context of these conversations but I do know this:

Within six months Tim acquired a job in a local factory.

It’s been over a year since Tim started working. I see him on a regular basis as he goes through my line at the store. He’s happier now than he’s ever been. He’s acquired a vehicle, rents a small apartment, and just glows when he shares how happy he is to be standing on his own feet.

He’s making more money now than he ever dreamed he could.

After reading the article I mentioned earlier I am seriously beginning to wonder: is the Social Security Disability system becoming the new welfare? Are the Welfare Queens of old shifting from state benefit programs to the national disability system so that they can hide beneath the honorable excuse of being unable to work?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.