Let me first address whether Social Security Disability is “wasting the taxpayer’s money.” CBS recently aired a sensationalized report on 60 Minutes about the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The story was based on anecdotes, half-truths and misrepresentation of facts. First, the SSDI program is an “insurance” program, not a “welfare” program. We all pay taxes throughout our working lives in order to ensure that if we become disabled and unable to work, we will have access to a vital safety net that will provide us with a minimal amount of financial security. The financial benefits really are minimal for the majority of beneficiaries – on average, an individual’s monthly SSDI benefit is only equal to about half of what they were earning while gainfully employed.
The second part of the question asked about “waste and corruption.” The requirements for obtaining SSDI benefits are demanding to ensure that only the most severely disabled individuals are able to obtain benefits. In fact, in order to qualify, an individual has to prove that he or she has experienced a long-term illness or injury that will prevent the individual from working at any job for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death. Due to this strict requirement, only about 40% of applicants are eventually approved.
A recently released report from the Government Accountability Office estimated the amount of improper Social Security Disability payments. The GAO estimated that a very small percentage – less than one-half of one percent of disability payments were improper and those payments impacted a similarly small share (0.4 percent) of disability beneficiaries.
The mistruths in the recent media barrage is unwarranted and shocking. They do not tell the entire story and will harm millions of Americans that depend on these modest benefits to maintain a basic quality of life. The benefit is just enough to keep beneficiaries out of deep poverty and homelessness. Disability benefits are only a modest asset that helps beneficiaries live with dignity while unable to work.
Lastly, Social Security disability benefits do not contribute to the deficit. SSDI is self-financed by payroll taxes (FICA), therefore not increasing the national debt. Achieving long-term solvency for Social Security programs should not be part of deficit reduction efforts.
The Social Security Disability Insurance program is intended to be a social safety net for American workers unable to perform job functions and support their families. The meritless attacks by 60 Minutes and others are blatantly one-sided, untrue and threaten the modest benefits that are needed by so many.
Nelson, Bryan and Jones represents clients in the following areas: Social Security Disability, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death Cases, Personal Injury Actions, Defective Products, Insurance Disputes and Bad Faith, Fire Loss cases, Trucking Accidents, Worker’s Compensation, Drug Recalls, Employment Law and Property Damage Claims.
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