"The whole system - employers, government, doctors, and economic incentives - are all aligned to keep people on the disability roles."
I've noticed that Most of the commentary here is based on anecdotal personal experience. That's a good part of coming to an understanding of any topic, but you need to add the metrics, measurements and figures,
If the whole system was so aligned, why are only 39% of SSDI disability claims accepted?
I agree that some part of the system is aligned on the side of disability applicants: firms like Binder, which actually advertise for SSDI.
The gate keepers to SSDI are the Social Security Administration which sets a high bar and a strong hurdle: you have to get past dr reits_r_us. Despite what he'll tell you about his colleagues who supposedly pass all the people he rejects, remember, most docs think like doc reits. A very conservative group of people indeed.
My personal observation: of the hundreds of friends and family I have known, I only personally know of one person who ever applied for SSDI, a childhood friend who was stricken with schizophrenia age 17. Took his parents years to get him accepted for SSDI.
I've noticed that some here have observed a person they know of who is on SSDI. If it was so widespread, wouldn't you expect people to have multiple observations of several, many cases they personally know of?
Also before you conclude minimum wage is a pay cut to SSDI, look up the SSDI benefits.
Like everything else from the New Deal - minimum wage, SS, etc, it has been whittled down over time. SS is no longer a retirement plan, its a supplement. 'Living' on SSDI is nightmarish.