If it bleeds, it leads, was an old newspaper saying, meaning scandalous and gory stories got the headlines, because they could grab people’s attention. As Congress has turned into a business where most members need to fundraise 24/7, there is a constant need to stay in the headlines. Last week, a congressional committee was holding hearings on the subject of fraud within the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.
Yes, incidents of fraud do occur, and some are headline grabbing, like the police officer who was shown on wave runner during a vacation in the tropics, clearly not disabled. However, such headlines distort the true picture of the average SSDI beneficiary, who struggles to cover all of their expenses.
We suspect Congress will not hold hearings about the plight of the typical SSDI beneficiary because that is not very news worthy, and unlikely to generate any news coverage or provide a reason to invite them on a news program. Why hold a hearing, after all, we know they have it hard, they are disabled.
Like the majority of the iceberg, they remain below the surface, and all too often ignored. High profile fraud captures the headlines, but honest workers, who have had the misfortune of losing their ability to work, are deemed uninteresting? Why?
Perhaps if the members of the congressional delegation from Ohio and every state had to listen for a day to the testimony of what it is like to live in here in Columbus on a disability benefit, they might be a little more interested in doing something real to help those disabled workers.
Source: Thehill.com, “Social Security disability fraud is rare,” Katy Neas, January 16, 2014