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Robert Longley

Social Security Wrongly Paying Disability Benefits: Report

By September 18, 2012

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Even as its essential trust funds approach insolvency, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is too often awarding disability benefits without adequately or properly reviewing applications, according to a congressional investigation.

According to a report by the Republican staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a "flood" of new applications for disability benefits is largely to blame for the lack of proper oversight and control of benefits awarded through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

The SSDI program pays monthly benefits to medically disabled workers who have not yet reached their Social Security retirement age. Currently, about 10.8 million Americans - over 19% of all Social Security recipients, are getting SSDI benefits.

In 2011, total payments in SSDI benefits grew to almost $129 billion and SSA estimates that benefit payments will exceed $134 billion in 2012.

New applications for SSDI disability benefits filed by persons ages 25 to 64 increased to 18 per 1,000 in 2011, up from 8 per 1,000 in 1990. As a result of the growing backlog of new applications, many disabled workers now must wait as long as two years before their applications are acted upon, according to the report.

"Amid all the statistics, one thing is clear," states the report, "more Americans than ever are turning to the disability programs to make ends meet and more work is needed to ensure scarce benefits go only to the disabled."

"Every person who is wrongfully added to the disability rolls by the agency takes money out of the pockets of the disabled," noted the report.

In its investigation of 300 actual cases in which disability benefits had been awarded, the congressional staff found that over 25% of the decisions had "failed to properly address insufficient, contradictory or incomplete evidence."

In many of the cases investigated, SSA officials approved disability benefits without citing adequate medical evidence supporting the decision or explaining the medical basis for the decision, according to the report.

In their report to the subcommittee, the Republican staff called on Congress to take specific steps to ensure the financial sustainability of the SSDI disability insurance program.

Should Congress fail to act, "everyone loses," warns the report. "Taxpayers will bear heavier costs; the Social Security Administration will have to do more with less; and most worrisome, there will be nothing left to give to those who need it most."

Also See:
The Sad Future of Social Security
Top Federal Benefit and Assistance Programs


September 18, 2012 at 11:38 am
(1) deb says:

I wonder if, in their haste to get through all the red tape, the SSA is also unfairly denying benefits to people who legitimately need them.

September 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm
(2) usgovinfo says:

@Deb: Sure, in some instances. However, denials usually result in lengthy appeals. Much faster to approve, than to deny. Appeals go to administrative law judges hired by SSA who are also required to meet annual case quotas and are also more likely to approve improperly than to deny benefits.

September 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm
(3) olga says:

well i just to say is what is wrong with the groverment how can addicts just walk into the social security office and apply for disablity and get it,my god is thats all it takes,is to be a drug addict to collect the money we work hard for,it makes me wonder what are we going to get when we get ready to retire nothing because the groverment is to busy giving the money i work so hard for to these so call disable drug addicts,i see so many people just waiting for their checks or standing in line at the bank getting to withdrawl i know cause a familly member just got a good back pay and never worked and and the coment she made was when i get my money iam gona blow it on lottery scratchers now that really piss me off, so groverment wake up before you dont have nothing when you get ready to retire,

September 20, 2012 at 8:42 pm
(4) steve says:

If I had a 25% FAILURE rate at my job…or if my office had a 25% Failure rate as mentioned in the report….I would not have a job and my office would be closed. Pitiful. But then our govt. can’t seem to run anything with much success. The Post Office, SS, even Cash for Clunkers…absymal failures!

October 10, 2012 at 12:09 am
(5) bubba says:

SSDI recipients should not be allowed to drive cars and should be drug tested on a regular basis. I know half a dozen and they are all freeloading. Poor kids today don’t want to learn in school because they know they will get SSDI.

Another problem is Section 8 Crooks — the fanciest cars in my neighborhood all are parked in front of the Section 8 Apartment Houses.

November 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm
(6) Alvin Plumhoff says:

Those legitimately receiving SSI have their monthly benefit reduced if they receive help from family members or others. This doesn’t make sense, since the monthly benefit is not enough to live on. The recipient needs the benefit so why reduce it if others can help?

December 8, 2012 at 11:07 am
(7) JiorJia says:

Deb, I am disabled due to a work related spinal injury 2005 to present inclusive of 2 spine surgies from 2009-2011 forward, and SSD continues to deny my benefits I’ve been paying in to since 1976. I know several SSD Fake/Fraudulent beneficiaries who sell their medications monthly for profit… where is my legitimate benefits???

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