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The Truth Behind the “Chart”

Dec. 10, 2019

Certain forms of media have been hyping a “chart” which shows the number of Americans that receive disability benefits through a federal disability program, currently just under 11 million people, outnumber the populations of several countries, including Portugal, Greece and Tunisia.

While this may seem shocking, one must keep in mind that Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, and California all have populations alone that are greater than 11 million. When put in another context, that is compared against the total U.S. population and the population of Americans who have disabilities, the number of individuals on federal disability programs starts to appear a lot less shocking. In fact, the number is relatively minuscule. A chart by Media Matters provides this graphic:

In addition, the number of Americans who are on disability benefits proves how vital these benefits are for disabled Americans and reinforces how important the federal disability program is. Think of the economic ramifications if 11 million people stopped receiving their only source of income!

Moreover, for the first time since 1997, the number of people on federal disability benefits dropped between January 2014 and February 2014.