Do you know somebody on disability? If not, you probably know somebody who knows somebody who is. In recent years, the rates of Americans on disability of some kind has skyrocketed. In the last 20 years, the number of people on Social Security disability rolls has more than doubled to 8.5 million, which when you add in family members and children, really brings that tally closer to 11.5 million. Some $124 billion is spent on disability every year, or one out of every five Social Security dollars. In 1988, disability spending accounted for one out of every eight Social Security dollars. What happened? It’s not so much that more people are disabled. It’s that disability got easier to qualify for, work got harder to find, and Social Security became a way to simply pay lots of 50-somethings to forget about working ever again.

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