Full episode
490: Trends With Benefits


Ira Glass talks with Planet Money reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, about Hale County, Alabama — a place where one fourth of working age adults are on disability. That means the government has determined that due to a health issue, 25 percent of the adults in Hale County are unable to work, qualifying them for monthly payments and health care coverage. Chana explains that people in Hale County have a lot of theories as to why their disability numbers are so high: freeloaders, cheaters, hard partiers, obesity. But none of those seem quite right. The rise in disability isn't just happening in Hale County but in pockets all over the country. 14 million people are now receiving disability payments. And it's a number that is growing. We devote the whole show today to figuring out why these numbers are ballooning and what it says about our economy. (7 minutes)