NORMAN — The number of Oklahomans collecting disability checks has risen significantly over the past decade.
Currently, about 8 percent of the state’s working age population draws a government disability check.
State officials say that number has gone up 73 percent since 2000, according to a story from Oklahoma Watch.
In Cleveland County, about 5 percent of the working age population draws a disability check. In neighboring McClain County, about 7 percent of the workforce is drawing disability.
There are a few reasons given for the rise. More baby boomers are aging and unable to work. Additionally, mental health has been added to the conditions eligible for disability.
States are also actively seeking to move residents from state-funded welfare roles to disability roles since that cost is covered by the federal government.
A recent National Public Radio report said the companies actively court states and are paid a “bounty” for each resident moved from a welfare roll to a Social Security disability roster.
In Oklahoma, about 187,000 residents of working age are drawing disability benefits.
Analysts expect the upward trend to continue as the population ages and workers are unable to perform certain work tasks.