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Is SSDI a victim of its own success?

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is a program that provides benefits for workers who have developed a disease or suffered an injury that has left them unable to work. The program has a fairly rigorous application process, with over 70 percent of applicants being denied benefits. Yet the program is being heavily attacked due to growth in the number of recipients of SSDI benefits.

One would think the program is rife with fraud, and that there are millions of “able-bodied” workers milking the system for ill-gotten benefits. Yes, SSDI has grown, and there are many factors, from women entering the workforce, to the aging of the baby boomers, the additional medical conditions being made eligible by Congress.

And one writer in Forbes claims this is “gaming” the program. Oddly enough, the Social Security Administration, like most federal agencies, is funded by the discretionary portion of the federal budget. Many politicians have recently made careers of clamoring to cut taxes and shrink government, but of course, at a time when the demands on those agencies’ work are growing.

It is ironic that if we want to ensure that programs like SSDI are not being “gamed” or paying fraudulent claims, the SSA must receive adequate funding to develop and staff administrative oversight of programs like SSDI.

SSDI claims are complex documents and require substantial staff to process. If a worker is deemed disabled and granted benefits, it requires additional staff to check up on all of the granted claims and ensure workers receiving benefits are still, in fact, disabled.

SSDI provides essential benefits for many disabled workers. If Congress fears there are substantial amounts of fraud within the system, it really has no further to look than the mirror to lay the blame. If you are disabled worker in need of benefits, contact a SSDI attorney for help with your benefit application.

Source: Forbes, “How Americans Game the $200 Billion-a-Year ‘Disability-Industrial Complex’” Avik Roy, April 8, 2013

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