Every month, the headlines tell us the number of people collecting disability payments instead of working has reached a new high. The number now stands at more than 10.9 million and has grown an average of 13,000 a month for the past year.
Since the end of 2008, the increase in the number of disabled women has grown by 21 percent, while the number of men joining the program has only increased 18 percent. Women now make up 47.9 percent of the disabled.
The number of women receiving payments for their own disability has been rising steadily for more than 45 years. Data from 1967, the earliest available date, show that women only made up 26.5 percent of the disabled at that time.
There has been significantly slower growth in the number of women receiving payments because their spouses are disabled. This number rose only 2 percent since 2008. Meanwhile, the number of men receiving disability payments because their wife was disabled rose 46 percent during that time. This is a small but growing group of beneficiaries.
Numbers simply tell us that more people than ever are accepting government benefits rather than working. The increase in the number of women receiving benefits on their own rather than as the dependent spouse of a disabled man may be a sign progress.
Of course, this may also be a sign that women realize they can be approved for their own benefits and enjoy a significant raise. Individual benefits average $993, while spouses receive only $305 each month.
Approval for benefits could even be based on difficult-to-disprove claims related to mood disorders, which could be caused by living with a non-working spouse.
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