Cutting the program is cutting benefits for millions of the most vulnerable Americans in terms of income, health, and political power. Many may believe the program will never apply to them, but there is a one-in-three chance a young person at the start of his or her career will die or qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance before reaching retirement age. Mulvaney’s statements echo oft-repeated, but quite deceptive, charges made against Social Security Disability Insurance, including that it is “a very wasteful program” that “grew tremendously under President Obama.” Far from spiraling, the number of people on Social Security Disability Insurance under Obama increased by about half as many as it did under George W. Bush, and the average annual growth rate under Obama was about a third of that under Bush. The number of beneficiaries has actually declined since September of 2014 by more than 185,000. And to Mulvaney’s claim that Social Security Disability Insurance is the “ the fastest growing program ,” he ignores that while disability enrollment decreased by nearly two percent over the past two years, the number of beneficiaries of Social Security’s retired-workers program increased by nearly six percent over the same period. Even the larger claim that Social Security Disability Insurance has spiraled out of control over the last several decades does not hold up to careful scrutiny. No one debates that the size of the Social Security Disability Insurance program has increased since 1980. It is true that over the last several decades the Social Security Disability program has increased by 5.9 million beneficiaries. Yet, these numbers reveal little about a program without looking at demographic, social, and health trends.
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