Iowa Disability Costs Double in Nine Years—Less than National Average

Published June 13, 2013

The number of Iowa workers on disability has increased only slightly during the past nine years, while the federal government’s monthly disability payments to state residents have more than doubled, according to the Social Security Administration.

Claims in the Hawkeye State grew 8 percent from 2003 to 2011, reaching 592,000 two years ago. That means roughly one in five Iowans are on disability. The monthly payments to recipients have grown from $208.5 million to $463.3 million during that time.

Federal officials attribute part of the increase to cost-of-living increases and how the government pays benefits. Currently, recipients receive payments based on how much they earned while working, according to the Social Security Administration.

57% Cost Increase Nationally

Iowa stands out for its relatively slow growth in claims.

During the same nine years, there was an 18 percent increase in recipients nationally, with payments going to more than 55.4 million people. The Feds paid more than $62.2 billion in 2011, a 57 percent increase since 2003.

The reason behind the growth in claims depends on who’s talking. Some researchers attribute it to the growth in the number of workers who retire in their 50s or early 60s, while others say it’s due to increases in mental health disorders and back problems.

Sheena Dooley ([email protected]) reports for, where an earlier version of this story appeared. Used with permission.