The Social Security Disability (SSD) system is the only source of income for many people who are severely disabled and who are not able to work because of an injury or grave medical condition. Both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are an important part of the safety net since a 20-year-old worker has a 30 percent chance of becoming disabled before retirement age and since fewer than half of all young people have access to private disability insurance or are covered by policies.
Despite the important role that the SSD system plays in providing income for the disabled, lawmakers and the media have repeatedly been targeting the program in recent months with investigations and scathing accusations of fraud. These accusations are largely unfounded, as Social Security Disability lawyers in Mobile, AL understand that a person trying to obtain these important benefits not only must meet stringent requirements, but often have their initial claim denied.
Media and Lawmakers Raise Largely Unfounded Concerns About Fraud
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations launched a comprehensive investigation into the Social Security Disability program and USA Today reported that the investigation identified disability fraud. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee also heard testimony in early October from doctors and judges as part of a two-year investigation to identify why there were an “unusually high” number of approved claims. These investigations are spurred by lawmakers who are extremely concerned about how many people are currently receiving SSD benefits.
Lawmakers aren’t the only ones questioning whether the SSA is being too generous with its disability programs. Both This American Life on PBS and the popular 60 Minutes television show have published pieces suggesting that many are turning to SSD as a welfare-substitute and/or because they don’t want to work even though they could.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research, however, points out a few problems with the conclusions of lawmakers and the media suggesting rampant fraud. irst and foremost, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) indicates that the denial rate is incredibly high for applicants for SSD benefits. Almost 75 percent of total applications for benefits are initially turned down. Even after appealing the initial denial, only around 60 percent of applicants are reportedly able to get benefits.
It is difficult to understand how a program with such a high denial rate could be described as having unusually high numbers of approved claims. The SSA’s strict and narrow definition of who is disabled enough to receive benefits also makes it really hard for someone to commit fraud because they’d need a doctor to falsify medical records showing they had required symptoms.
CEPR also points to a University of Michigan Study that revealed only seven percent of people who applied for and were denied disability benefits were working two years after the denial. Among those who did work after a claim was denied, they usually earned just 25-50 percent of what they’d made before they got hurt.
The CEPR data provides strong reasons to believe that those who are attacking the SSD program may not have a lot of factual basis for their arguments. Unfortunately, attacks on the program may make it even more difficult for applicants to secure benefits in a system that already presents numerous obstacles for the disabled.
For help getting benefits through Social Security disability in Mobile, AL contact the Mike Slocumb Law Firm at 1-800-HURTLINE.