As of 2007, more than 50,000 Baltimoreans are hardly working—nearly 11 percent of the city’s population aged 18 to 64—were collecting disability benefits. The numbers have certainly increased since then.
Nationally, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the federal benefit afforded to the very poor disabled and elderly, cost taxpayers $45 billion in 2009, with more than $40 billion of that going to people, like Jackson, of prime working age. Not including the additional costs for Medicaid and Medicare, which disability recipients receive as well, the tab for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a separate federal program for people with work histories, was $124 billion. Without changes the program will run out of money by 2018.