• But enough about me. Did you read my interview?

    I chatted about disability policy with Brad Plumer at the Washington Post here. Like many other people I was both impressed and disturbed by Chana Joffe-Walt’s disability reporting at This American Life and Planet Money.

    Perhaps I was too harsh in that interview. There’s much to admire in the warm humanity of Joffe-Walt’s presentation of disability issues and the challenges facing workers our economy has left behind. Her interview with Ezra Klein fills in some missing pieces, too.

    I do fear that parts of the program are oversimplified or invite misinterpretation—especially in her discussion of the SSI program for low-income kids. The rise in the child SSI caseloads is dwarfed by the decline in the number of children receiving cash assistance after the 1996 welfare reform. TANF’s failure to remotely keep pace with macroeconomic crisis and rising child poverty remains a huge policy failure of the Great Recession. The relatively small increase in child SSI caseloads pales in comparison.

    You’ve seen my rap on these issues before.  It’s still correct.

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    • Yes, seems like policy isn’t keeping pace with economic realities. Maybe if they had better data. This blog talks about that. http://www.statisticsblog.com/2013/03/minding-the-reality-gap

    • The situation screams out for replacing the minimum wage with a wage subsidy or a basic income guaranty. You could set an age, somewhere between 18 and 25 (the exact age could be debated) where USA citizens become eligible to receive a weekly check for say $150.00. the current system discourages training, work and marriage too much. This would replace unemployment, AFDC, SNAP, subsidized housing and Social security, SS disability etc. If it started at age 18 it could even replace the subsidizing higher education.

      You would think that it would worth a try but alas Government is too stupid to try it.

    • Harold, could you comment on the section of the story that describes some states’ efforts to move (state) assistance recipients onto (federal) disability rolls through the use of private-sector contractors? Was that just an atypical anecdote blown out of proportion, or are these contractors having a significant effect on disability claims?