We have all heard them – those friends or relatives who claim they know someone who is collecting disability who shouldn’t be. Why do we pay our taxes for those freeloaders, the argument goes.
I always like to ask those that complain about social security fraud if they have reported the suspected fraudster to the authorities. The answer is always no.
While there is little doubt that there is fraud in the disability system, there is NO evidence that this fraud is rampant.
Here are some facts that cannot be ignored or discounted:
It is not easy to get approved for social security disability. The vast majority of people who apply are denied. Approximately 65 percent of applicants are denied at the initial level, and about 85 percent of applicants are denied on reconsideration. Of those that appeal to the hearing level in front of a judge, about 50 percent are approved.
Many reasons exist for denying applicants. Claimants can be denied because they haven’t worked enough to qualify for SSDI. To qualify a claimant must have worked for five out of the last ten years prior to application and paid into the social security system while doing so. Others are denied for medical reasons. To get approved, the claimant must have a physical or mental disablitiy that is severe and is expected to last at least 12 months.
The social security administration requires solid medical documentation in making its determination of phisyical or mental disability. If a claimant is not treating with a valid medical provider such as an M.D.. it is very unlikely the claimant will be approved. It is not easy to “pretend” you are disabled. Usually when a claimant is disabled, ongoing and lengthy treatment with a specialist is a given. A record lacking such evidence is frowned upon by the Social Security Administration.
The statistics show that people who apply for disabiltiy have much higher death rates than the general population. It is pretty difficulty to fake ones death. People on disability are up to six times more likely to die than people in their age group who don’t receive benefits.
The solution is not gut the system of much needed funding, but rather to detect and frett out fraud when it occurs. The social security disability system is a lifesaver, and you can be assured that the vast, vast majority of those receiving benefts are legitamately disabled.
For more information see: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report on the disability system. https://www.cbpp.org/research/chart-book-social-security-disability-insurance
By Michael J. Cerniglia
Hoglund Law Firm