Disability insurance provides support for people who can no longer work because of a disability, but the likelihood that someone will re-enter the work force is almost nonexistent. There has been a spike in disability applicants, and Orszag says this is due to a weak labor market driving people who qualify for the program to apply because they cannot find work. He says the current economic downturn could cause a long-term reduction in workers. To counter that we need more stimulus immediately, an extension of unemployment insurance, and reforms of the disability program that encourages recipients to return to work. Orszag offers some program reform ideas.
Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to July 2010, is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.