As life expectancy rises, so does the likelihood of disability

There’s little debate about the fact that life expectancy has increased in America and around the world. Out of context, that’s great news. But whether or not longer life is good for any one person comes down to a simple but important question: are those extra years full of health, or full of illness and disability?

Medical professionals are increasingly focusing on the quantity vs. quality argument in life expectancy. After all, living with serious disability for many years is not only difficult physically and psychologically; it is also expensive.

A recent article in the Atlantic discusses the trends in increasing life expectancy, especially as it relates to time spent with a disability. According to the article, the average proportion of our lives spent disability-free seems to be decreasing. But interestingly, proportions increased among people 65 and older, meaning that the decrease in disability-free years is more likely to affect people of working age.

The discussion of life expectancy is not complete without including Social Security Disability Insurance. In light of the findings that disability may be increasing among younger Americans, we all have a vested interest in ensuring that the SSDI program stays adequately funded and well-managed. In an election year like this, it is too easy for politicians to use SSDI as a scapegoat or a bargaining chip.

Chances are good that you or someone you love could become too disabled to work before reaching age 65. If that ever happens, wouldn’t you want to know that Social Security Disability Insurance will be there when needed?