Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Debunks Disability Myths Around Men’s Declining Participation in the Labor Force
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Analysis Debunks Disability Myths Around Men’s Declining Participation in the Labor Force

Washington, D.C. — Ahead of anticipated cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in President Donald Trump’s budget, a new analysis from the Center for American Progress debunks widely reported claims that the long-term decline in prime age men’s labor force participation is due to disability benefits, including SSDI, Supplemental Security Income, veterans disability compensation, and workers’ compensation.

“Over the last half-century, the share of prime-age men in the labor force has declined, with a simultaneous increase in widespread misinformation about the reasons for this trend. Essential disability benefits are not to blame. The number of mid-age men receiving disability benefits over the past 20 years is actually down, and the number of men not in the labor force because they are going to school or caring for family members has doubled,” said Shawn Fremstad, Senior Fellow at CAP.

“Social Security, veterans disability compensation, and workers’ compensation are not pushing men out of the workforce. President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress need to stop leaning on myths to justify harmful cuts to programs that help millions of Americans meet basic living standards,” said Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Director of Family Policy for the Poverty to Prosperity Program at CAP.

The large majority of prime-age men receiving veterans disability compensation or workers’ compensation are in the labor force—not out of it—and the number of prime-age men receiving these benefits has declined. A recent analysis by economist Jason Furman found that increased receipt of SSDI only explains about 0.1 percentage points of the 8.4 percentage-point decline in prime-age men’s labor force participation over the past half-century—which means 99 percent of the decline is due to other factors.

Click here to read the brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak to an expert, contact Devon Kearns at or 202.641.6290.