Report highlights drastic increase in disability recipients across the commonwealth

10/10/2017 05:28 PM

FRANKFORT – A new report issued today shows a dramatic increase in the number of Kentucky adults and children receiving disability benefits.

The report was prepared by Kentucky’s Disability Determination Services (DDS), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) and presented by Division of Income Support Deputy Commissioner Bryan Hubbard on Tuesday at the monthly Kentucky Work Matters task force meeting.

The study of Kentucky outcomes covers a 35-year time frame between 1980 and 2015. During that time, Kentucky’s population grew by 21 percent while its combined disability enrollment grew exponentially – by 249 percent. Childhood enrollment growth was 449 percent.

In 2015, 11.2 percent of Kentuckians were receiving some form of disability benefit payment, which is the second highest percentage in the country.

The top 12 disability counties in 2015 were: Wolfe, Owsley, Breathitt, Clay, Magoffin, Floyd, Lee, Leslie, Martin, Harlan, Perry and Bell counties.

As the rolls have increased, so has the rate of controlled substance prescriptions in those counties.

“There’s been an increase in the prescriptions of opioids and psychotropic medications, controlled substances, across the board to both our adult and childhood medicated populations that are disproportionate to what would appear to be the statistical need for such percentages,” Hubbard said.

The report also provided information on the top five physical and mental conditions that lead to disability awards, which include diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, mental disorders, diseases of the circulatory system, diseases of the nervous system and sense organs and diseases of the respiratory system.

The report states, “Social Security disability benefit dependence should be created by genuinely disabling conditions which permanently preclude individuals from ever performing remunerative work. For people so afflicted, the integrity and solvency of the system must be preserved. Tragically, some individuals in Kentucky have never experienced life without public assistance.”

Hubbard outlined some recommended SSA reforms.

“The first thing would be to completely overhaul and reform the protocols which are used to admit people in the Social Security disability system,” Hubbard said. “At the present time, that is mostly by subjected of complaints and medical diagnoses without any sort of forensic medical examination or psychiatric evaluation.”

Hubbard believes that now is the time for reform since that state has been stuck in the quagmire for three and a half decades, which has led to a lack of productivity and poverty.

“For 35 years have been second in the number of percentage of our population who are dependent on Social Security disability, behind only West Virginia,” Hubbard said. “Almost twice the national average.”

Click here for a link to the full report.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at



  • Heza Putz wrote on October 11, 2017 09:05 AM :

    White people are crazy. Word!

  • Cumberland Gap wrote on October 11, 2017 09:21 AM :

    Yes, that area is 1% minority but that’s not the issue. The fraud inspectors need to be more active and productive. Too many recipients are working on the side in labor jobs. I know a state rep who plays golf in Eastern Ky and he tells a story about 40 year olds playing golf very well and bragging about getting on disability.

  • Cicero wrote on October 11, 2017 03:23 PM :

    A symptom of our larger problem in the entitlement state. We’ve defined “success” by expanding the roles of welfare dependency rather than finding ways to get people employed and back to work. You aren’t “helping” people by creating cycles of dependency or making them permanent wards of the state. Disability was meant for people who truly couldn’t be employed for real, life-long medical reasons – not because the mill closed down and there was a gap until Social Security kicked in or you’d rather get stoned all day and watch TV. A society who defines “success” by spending other people’s money to allow able bodied people to do nothing productive with their lives is on the road to ruin. Example A is Europe and we are only a generation behind them when it comes to financial troubles. We are getting to a point in this state where all we will pay for is government employees to retire at 50, disability, and Medicaid. If you want to know how you get the nation’s 2nd worst pension liability problem – here’s your answer.

  • sadkyworker wrote on October 11, 2017 04:29 PM :

    The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation could be a huge help in bringing more people from the welfare roles back to work. Alas they are subject to budget cuts and cannot provide all of the services that the people need. There are many folks who have physical and mental disabilities who want to work but need some help finding a job that will work with their limitations and not be afraid of getting sued if something happens. Many of these same people need follow up help also. It would be much cheaper to provide these services than for these people to end up on SSI and never be able to get off of welfare.

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