Thursday, October 20, 2005

Katrina Casualties Could Speed Bankruptcy Of Social Security Benefits To 2008

If 18% of victims paid disability benefits as a result of 9/11 holds true in the Katrina disaster, then 234,000 survivors will receive Social Security disability benefits, drastically reducing the time horizon for solvency of the Administration.

Columbia, MD (PRWEB) October 20, 2005 -- At the rate of $3 million per month for every 498 individuals, as is being paid to survivors of 9/11, the Administration is on the hook for $4.4 billion per month - $52.8 billion per year- in disability benefits.

The Administration now sends $100 billion a year to 10 million people. Add to this the 15 million (20%) out of 76 million baby boomers who will become disabled over the next 10 years, the inescapable conclusion is that the Administration will run out of enough workers to pay for the disabled and retiring 5 years sooner than the 2014 year previously forecast by the Government Accounting Office (GAO).

In a statement released in 2003, the Social Security Administration said that as of August of that year, monthly benefits are being paid to 498 individuals disabled by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and 81 of their dependent spouses or children for a total of $3 million per month. The Administration received 5,629 individual benefit claims from 2,281 families. Benefits are being paid to 2,375 surviving children and surviving spouses. One-time payments were made to 1,800 members of victims’ families. As of August 2003, nearly $67 million in benefits had been paid to people affected by the September 11th tragedies.

If past studies of disaster survivors are valid, as many as seventy-four percent of the 1.3 million Katrina survivors could develop long-term depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), making them eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Two studies of the long-term psychological effects of survivors have been published; one in the "Journal of Traumatic Stress" (August 2002), the other in "The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease" (March 2003).

The first study of 1,000 survivors found that the rates of PTSD and depression were 43% and 31% respectively. The second ,with a group of 500 individuals, found rates of 39% and 18%, respectively. Both studies were based on the devastating earthquakes which hit Turkey in 1999. The first quake left 17,000 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. The second killed hundreds more. (BBC News, 11/24/99)

Both studies found that the most severe occurrences of depression and PTSD were those who were female, older age, participation in rescue work, death of a family member, past psychiatric illness, and lower education.

If the 18% of victims paid for disability as a result of 9/11 holds true to the Katrina disaster, then 234,000 survivors will receive Social Security disability benefits. If the higher percentages are used, then $5.8 million per month –$69.6 billion per year in disability benefits will be paid to the survivors.

Using the lower numbers, this would increase SSA’s payout by 50% in one year. But, if the lower percentages of victims revealed in the 2nd study of Turkey earthquake survivors is used, then 57% -741,000 - of the Katrina victims would qualify for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of depression and PTSD. If the higher percentages uncovered in the first Turkey earthquake are used, then as many as 962,000 could qualify for the long-term effects of PTSD and depression.

Dr. Peter Hodgkinson from the Centre For Crisis Psychology in North Yorkshire says, “Death in war can be given some meaning if there is a feeling that the victim was fighting for a cause. But, with a natural disaster on this scale, there is a sense of hopelessness, of being totally overwhelmed by the force of nature.” (BBC News, August 23, 1999)

Lorraine Sherr, a consultant clinical psychologist at the Royal Free Hospital of London, said after the Turkey earthquakes, “The most difficult things to cope with after a tragedy are the feelings generated because you have survived while others have not. Also, there has to be a realization that life will never be the same again.”

About Frederick A. Johnson:Frederick Johnson has been helping the disabled get Social Security disability benefits since 1989. He is author of, “How To Apply For & Win Social Security Disability Benefits” published with yearly updates since 1994. (ISBN: 1-888752-28-9)

Contact:

Frederick Johnson March 3rd Books/Disability Income Associates1-800-536-0454

Copyright 2005, Frederick A. Johnson. All rights reserved. 5430 Lynx Lane, PMB 194, Columbia, MD 21044

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