I'm not one to generally say "I told you so" but in this case, well, I told you so! Two weeks ago I said to start paying attention to the explosion in disability claims because for far too many, this lucrative federal program has become the new cash cow to supplement or replace other taxpayer-funded programs.
And new numbers are out and, sure enough, there it is in black and white.
There has been in recent months a virtual explosion of disability claims with mental disability topping the list of "ailments" for those seeking monthly disability checks.
The numbers are actually staggering.
In new figures just released, 43 percent of the new disability claims are for mental illness and stress.
I first noticed the trend a few months back while working with a local federal agency in this region. Now, the national statistics show a growing trend of individuals - especially those who have now exhausted their unemployment benefits - filing mental disability claims.
And what do these disabilities - both real and phony - cost the American taxpayer? Try $200 billion a year and growing.
And as I always keep an eye on the political impact of issues, keep in mind that when someone files a disability claim they are then removed from the unemployment ranks and thus, the jobless rate appears to decline. The fact is starkly different from the perception in this case.
Sure enough, the Social Security Disability Fund is running in the red and will be fully exhausted in six years - if not sooner.
I get sick of repeating the tired refrain but it's true. The American taxpayer is more than willing to provide funding for those truly in need and the disabled top that list. But the American taxpayer is getting equally frustrated with paying benefits to those who game the system to their own benefit.
And please, drop the pretense. We all know of someone who is receiving disability benefits or applying for those benefits who is able to work. But apparently we have made the path toward disability much easier and for many, this has become the new paycheck.
But you have not heard of word of concern nor caution from this administration and you won't. Redistribution of wealth is redistribution of wealth regardless of the path.
First and foremost, I blame those who claim stress in their life is rendering them unable to work. But beyond that, I put the blame squarely on those who approve these disability payments knowing full well that many of these claims are borderline at best. At worst, they are outright fraud and corruption.
In the end, one individual or one small committee gives the thumbs up on an individual disability claim. Those who make those decisions act as though there is some bottomless pit of magical money to pay for that person who has stress in their life.
We, the people, provide those funds. And I'm tired of someone giving my money away to those who by their own choice dip their hand in the taxpayer pocket with phony claims and bogus disabilities.
The ones hurt the most are those truly disabled. They deserve our full support and concern. But those who seek to join that class with phony claims deserve our contempt.