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Debunking Disability Fraud Myths

Debunking Disability Fraud Myths

A set of recent articles in the New York Times set astir notions of fraud being rampant for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Fund.   In one of the articles, comment was interpreted that current legislation pointed to the belief by some that the fund was not work protecting until the perceived abuses could be better governed.

There is an excellent policy brief from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that explains the disability system in good detail.

While there is a perception, there are facts that override the perceptions, some are:

  • Getting on disability is difficult. There is a myriad of requirements just to qualify, and nearly 60% get turned away.  Some of the requirements are work force participation of 25% of the applicant’s life and the ability to demonstrate work in 5 of the past 10 years.
  • Some are rejected for a technical reason or simply haven’t worked long enough and to qualify the disability, whether physical or mental, must be severe.
  • Of the mere 40 percent of applicants who are accepted, it is common for the applicant to have been rejected on the initial request and have been subjected to additional scrutiny.
  • While physical disorders, which constitute the majority of claims, are easier to identify, some raise concern that others are less obvious such as back issue or depression or other mental disorders.  However, these mental disorders can be diagnosed and can be extremely debilitating for those who suffer from them.  There are real issues for those who suffer from injury or disease of the brain and conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  • If there was rampant fraud, the death rate wouldn’t be as high as it is with disability recipients up to 6 times more likely to pass away as compared to others in an equivalent age group who aren’t on disability.
  • Claims are going up but not at a disproportionate rate to the population most likely to require this assistance.  The age group, starting with 50-year olds is larger with baby-boomers coming of age and there are more women that are eligible as since the post-World War II generations produced more working women.

disability fraudThe problem is not solved just by raising the bar of difficulty for persons to participate in the disability system as too many are shut out today and while there is certainly some fraud, it isn’t rampant. As it sits, the US has a very restrictive and limit benefit offering compared to many other similar economies per the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It does seem that the solution requires a legislative cure.  The cure would include financial support to the Social Security Administration that would allow it to develop and deploy a system to prevent and detect fraud.  To this point, there has been no such legislative remedy.  It is also important to note that in the last 20 years, resources available to the Social Security Administration have declined even as claims have increased as the largest component of the population is aging into the sweet spot.

If you would like to find out more information about a disability claim, please contact Edelstein Martin and Nelson.  To arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced disability attorneys in Philadelphia, call 215-731-9900, or toll-free 800-887-4529 or contact us online.