Paul Krugman on expanding disability rolls

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman believes you’re living in a right-wing “intellectual bubble” if you think rising disability claims in the Social Security program reflect anything other than “the real health problems of an aging work force.” Thing is, no less a personage than former Obama budget director Peter Orszag wrote in the New York Times that the “spike in disability insurance applications (and awards) does not reflect a less healthy population,” and Orszag’s view on this matter is commonplace among many other analysts whose views are hardly conservative. [Ira Stoll, who has just relaunched his wonderful, one of the best media-criticism sites since they invented the Internet; everyone should start reading it]


  • I suspect the real answer lies somewhere in the middle, albeit probably close to Mr. Orszag’s view.

  • The combination of high unemployment, the never expanding list of what is a mental disability, contingency fee social security disability lawyers ( we’ve all seen the ads) and some SS disability judges who, essentially, grant all claims have led to a 400% increase in social security disability payouts over the last 20 years. Don’t count on the current administration to do anything since putting as many people on the dole is their way of building a permanent majority.

  • Steve: Permanent, until those of us who actually pay the bills go Galt and shrug the lazy bums off our shoulders.

  • I guess I am in a bubble. Personally knowing people who collect disability that would have no problem working has a way of biasing your views against the real truth that politicians tell us.

  • Krugman has never had a job outside of his own liberal academic bubble.
    Those of us who work for a living know that the vast majority of disability is a disability of mind and spirit.
    See Overlawyered just a week ago, the anesthesiologist who was ‘disabled’ because she was a drug user and could not therefore resume working as an anesthesiologist due to handling narcotics as an inseparable component of that job. Sure she was highly educated and could have sought a lot of highly paid work both within medicine or as a non-practicing consultant researcher or other gainfully employed person. Instead she stuck with the ‘disability’ as her career choice, and won the benefits.

  • I don’t think the “never had a real job” rap every really sticks. I’ve made a payroll every two weeks for the last 15 years. But it does not increase the weight of my opinions.