The federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which takes in money via a federal payroll tax and pays it out in disability benefits, ran a record $31.2 billion deficit in calendar year 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.
That means the trust fund has run a deficit in each of the first four years of the Obama presidency.
For fifteen straight years before Obama took office – from 1994 through 2008 – the Disability Insurance Trust Fund ran a surplus. In 2007, for example, it ran an $11 billion surplus and in 2008 it ran an $889-million surplus.
In 2009, however, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund dipped into the red and has not returned to the black since then. In fact, each year since then the annual deficit has increased.
In 2009, the disability trust fund ran a $12.2 billion deficit; in 2010, it ran a $23.6 billion deficit; in 2011, it ran a $26.1 billion deficit; and in 2012, it ran a $31.2 billion deficit.
These deficits in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund have coincided with a massive run-up in the number of American workers taking federal disability payments.
In January 2009, when President Barack Obama was inaugurated, 7,442,377 workers took disability payments, according to data published by the Social Security Administration. In March 2013, 8,853,614 took disability payments. The 1,411,337 additional workers taking federal disability payments since Obama took office represents an increase of about 19 percent in the number of Americans claiming a disability.
Employed workers pay a 0.9 percent payroll tax for federal disability insurance and their employers pay an additional 0.9 percent. Self-employed workers pay the entire 1.8 percent themselves.
The aggregated revenue from the disability payroll tax is counted by the government as the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. When the value of the disability benefits paid by the government exceeds the value of the disability tax revenue received by the government, the trust fund runs a deficit.
The U.S. Treasury needs to borrow money–and increase the federal debt – to fund disability payments that exceed disability payroll taxes. As of the close of business on Tuesday, the federal debt equaled $16,804,876,955,116.78 – or about $146,090 for each of the 115,031,000 households the Census Bureau now estimates there are in the United States.