But there is another federal program for people with disabilities that has had an unhappier effect. This is the disability-insurance (DI) program, which is part of Social Security.

The idea is to provide income for those whose health makes them unable to work. For many years, it was a small and inexpensive program that few people or politicians paid much attention to. …

Things have changed. Americans have grown healthier, and significantly lower numbers die before 65 than was the case a half-century ago. Nevertheless, the disability rolls have ballooned. …

In other words, many people are gaming or defrauding the system. This includes not only disability recipients but health-care professionals, lawyers, and others who run ads promising to get you disability benefits.

Between 1996 and 2011, the private sector generated 8.8 million new jobs, and 4.1 million people entered the disability rolls.