The Norman Transcript

Headlines

May 4, 2013

Disability claim numbers soaring

NORMAN — The number of Oklahomans on federal disability programs has soared over the past decade, resulting in nearly 8 percent of the working-age population collecting a government check each month. Five percent of Cleveland County’s working age residents (7,842 persons) are drawing disability.

In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, nearly 187,000 Oklahomans of working age received disability benefits — a 73 percent increase since 2000.

The total benefits, which included those for disabled workers’ spouses and children, were about $173 million.

Counties with the highest shares were in high-poverty southeastern Oklahoma, according to the latest county-level data from the Social Security Administration and U.S. Census Bureau. Pushmataha and Choctaw counties’ rates were more than 15 percent.

In McClain County, that number is 7 percent or 1,383 recipients.

Federal disability programs have come under scrutiny by media and others in recent months because of the national long-term rise in disability claims. Among the reasons cited for the trend: Some states have hired companies to transfer people from welfare to disability programs because states pay part of welfare costs but none for disability. Also, attorneys are recruiting clients with promises to try to get them on disability.

However, a 2006 report by the Social Security Administration attributed most of the rise to growing health problems among aging baby boomers and others and recessionary times that pushed more of the injured on to disability because they couldn’t find work.

Another factor is federal policy changes, including adding mental health to the conditions eligible for disability benefits, the agency found. Also, more women entered the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s, meaning more workers qualified for disability benefits.

When asked why disability has expanded so rapidly, Sarah-Schultz-Lackey, a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration in Dallas, said, “We administer the program, but we don’t guess why people apply.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Bridge Businesses try to survive while bridge is closed

    Ray Cole wonders every day if his business will have to close. Cole is one of many Lexington and Purcell business owners struggling financially since the 76-year-old James C. Nance Memorial Bridge closed Jan. 31. The Oklahoma Department ...

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Storm scavengers now could face felony charges

    OKLAHOMA CITY— It wasn’t long after a devastating tornado hit Moore last year that scavengers were circling the wreckage. Already reeling, Moore residents had a new concern — fending off looters....

    April 15, 2014

  • Norman teachers excited about professional development

    Norman Public Schools’ teachers are focused on students and want to take advantage of professional development, Beth Spears, director of Staff Development and Student Achievement, said was the overall response teachers had to a recent ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Social justice dialogue part of University of Oklahoma program

    The University of Oklahoma kicked off Justice Week with a public forum Monday titled “Luis Rodriguez: No en Vano.” Critically acclaimed author, Esmeralda Santiago discussed the “Transformative Power of Art,” while joining five panelists ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Norman High Speech and Debate Team wins state championship

    Briar White’s heart pounded in his chest as he clasped the hands of several classmates and Booker T. Washington High School was announced as the second-place finisher. White said he was elated to hear second place announced because he ...

    April 16, 2014

  • General fund continues to decline as expenses exceed anticipated revenues

    Norman’s expenses will again outstrip projected revenue in the current budget before the city council. The budget for the fiscal year that starts in July and ends June 30, 2015, projects $210,982,020 in total revenues and $213,436,778 in ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Norman students accepted to arts institute

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Forty-nine Norman high school students have been accepted to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain, an arts academy hosted June 14-29 in southwestern Oklahoma. The Norman students were among 270 artists ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Supremacist faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The white supremacist charged in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City made his first court appearance Tuesday....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014