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.


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