Home | From Bob's Cluttered Desk | Oh Boise, Was I Wrong About Entitlement Numbers

Oh Boise, Was I Wrong About Entitlement Numbers

Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Last week I gave a presentation at the Idaho Industrial Commission Annual Workers’ Compensation Seminar called “Breaking the Cycle of Entitlement: How Do We Get Better?” In that presentation I discussed the rapidly expanding growth of SSDI, and how workers’ comp can reduce the number of people we feed into that particular system. I also, in order to elaborate the greater trend toward entitlements in general, reviewed a few statistics about the current number of people receiving benefits from the many various Federal entitlement programs.

I discovered the very next morning, while I was on my flight out of Boise, that I had vastly underreported the actual numbers. I had used the estimate of 85,000,000 people earning benefits from one or more of the 110 Federal means tested entitlement programs available. It turns out that as of the end of 2011, that number was actually 108,592,000. In fact, it was reported Friday that in the last quarter of 2011, for the first time ever, we had more people on Federal means tested benefits programs than we had working full time in the workforce. The Census Bureau reported that we had 101,716,000 full time workers that year.

The statistics include the following, which I pulled directly from the source article:

Among the 108,592,000 people who fit the Census Bureau’s description of a means-tested benefit recipient in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 82,457,000 people in households receiving Medicaid, 49,073,000 beneficiaries of food stamps, 20,223,000 on Supplemental Security Income, 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program, 13,433,000 in public or subsidized rental housing, and 5,854,000 in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Also among the 108,592,000 means-tested benefit recipients counted by the Census Bureau were people getting free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast, state-administered supplemental security income and means-tested veterans pensions.

It is also important to note that these numbers do not include “non-means tested” recipients, which would include Social Security, Medicare or unemployment. Individuals receiving those would not be counted in the 108.5 million unless they also received some other income from a means tested program. When added up, the Census Bureau reports the total number of people receiving government benefits from one or more programs in the United States in 2011 was actually 151,014,000.

That is damn close to half of our population. In fact, we had an estimated 311,800,000 people in the United States in 2011, so it is a shocking 48.4%. Compare that to the fact that only 32.6% of our population was engaged in full time work that year.

Talk about an unsustainable trend. Some of us better start putting in more overtime to pay for it all, especially when that number tips over 50% - which it likely has already done.

One gentleman in Boise, at the end of my presentation, took exception to what I had said. He originally thought I had called workers’ comp an entitlement program. When I clarified that I had not done so, rather discussing how we fed an entitlement system, he further objected telling me, “but [entitlements] are paid for with taxes”. I am not sure what the relevance of that observation was, except that he might have the opinion that everyone on them should get them because they paid for them. If that is the case, it is a misguided argument. I am paying for them. You are likely paying for them. It still doesn’t mean we are entitled to them, unless we develop a condition or illness that entitles us to access.

Apparently half of us are missing something here; and we can’t figure out why the wagon we are pulling feels heavier by the day.

Boise, oh Boise, I was wrong about the numbers. I mislead you by drawing a rosier picture than actually exists. For that I apologize. It is worse than we thought, and we in workers’ comp need to do our part to not aid this growing trend. We must find a way to reduce the number of people we place onto the disability roles, instead returning them to function and to work.

It is bad enough we have to feed the system with our tax dollars. We don’t need to be feeding it warm bodies as well.

Rate this article



You may now follow Bob on Twitter @WorkCompKing.
Daily doses of inane thought in 140 character increments. Just as filling, with half the fat.

Email this story to a friend (above right) or share it with your social network!

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (2 posted)

Anthony Cracco 10/30/2013 10:38:27
Bob not to naysay your excellent point re the overabundance of people dependent on tax paying workers, however I have to wonder at the stats you gave. Many of those programs inter lap. For example in your stats if someone is receiving Medicaid and Food stamps are they counted twice?
Bob Wilson 10/30/2013 11:28:13
An excellent question, Anthony. I wondered the same thing, but the answer appears to be "no". Just look at the indented paragraph I pulled from the source article. It provides a breakdown of various categories within the 108 million "means-tested" recipients. All those numbers add up to 194,278,000 people - and those are just the few major programs highlighted. Clearly they have factored for those on multiple programs and just counted them once.

I sincerely wish the answer to your question was "yes". I'd sleep better at night if it was.
total: 1 | displaying: 1 - 1

Post your comment

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Quote

Please enter the code you see in the image:


About From Bob's Cluttered Desk - "A Place Online for our CEO to Opine"

Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.

Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

We're not responsible for this guy.....

Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.

Join Bob and over 16,000 employers and professionals on his LinkedIn group - the Workers Compensation Roundtable. Join here today!

Follow Bob on Twitter at his personal account @WorkCompKing

From Bob's Cluttered Desk is a LexisNexis Top Blog Honoree

  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version
  • Plain text Plain text

Get Our Free Newsletter

Join 10,000+ of your peers! Get our latest WorkersCompensation.com articles delivered to your email inbox for free

Full name:
The CompNewsNetwork is brought to you free of charge courtesy of these fine sponsors:

Powered by Vivvo CMS v4.7