The United States is still facing an average of 9% unemployment. As this blog has discussed previously, the measured unemployment rate does not include individuals whose 99 weeks of unemployment benefits have run out before they could find another job. What has become of these people?
Some are switching from one government support agency to another. Unable to find work, unable to collect unemployment, an increasing number of people are turning to the Social Security Administration. For some, the depression caused by not being able to work and support their family may be a legitimate disability, but for others, applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a last ditch effort to continue to provide income while not employed.
The Social Security Administration is feeling the strain of these people’s desperation. The drastic increase in applicants has slowed the system to a crawl, delaying benefits for the terminally ill and permanently disabled who are working their way through the system.
The effect on Social Security is devastating. The Administration has been experiencing such a backlog since 2005- early in the economic downturn- that a new applicant designation has been created. It is not a designation for unemployed candidates attempting to use Social Security as extended unemployment. The new designation is DXDI, and it refers to an applicant who died while waiting for benefits.
The flood of additional applicants, particularly since many of them know they have no disability but are desperate to support themselves in a weak economy, brings into sharp relief the need to create a more fraud-proof Social Security system. There has always been fraud, and it may have slowed the system, but never to the extent that the system is being slowed now. The benefits application process has become so slow, so dragged out, so difficult to follow through, that terminally ill applicants are literally dying before they receive their benefits. This is unacceptable. No matter how weak the economy, no matter what may be wrong with the unemployment system, there needs to be more common sense by people attempting to use Social Security as unemployment support.
For more information about Social Security, click here.