‘60 Minutes’ Piece On Disability Benefits Distorts Reality

Unfortunately, last week another major media outlet ran a condemning piece on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which lacked facts and was anecdote-based.

On October 6, the CBS News program 60 Minutes ran a video report called “Disability, USA”, which criticized the Social Security Administration (SSA), indicating that more Americans are becoming dependent on SSDI as their unemployment benefits run out.

The piece also discussed SSDI law, the appeals process, and went into detail about an attorney in Kentucky who allegedly made deals with doctors and Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) to win cases for clients, collecting millions of dollars. We will discuss this in Wednesday’s blog post.

Following the release of the 60 Minutes report, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) issued a statement calling the story “an egregious piece of biased, anecdote-based reporting that lacked critical facts and context for viewers.”

From the NOSSCR:

Despite criticizing the [SSA] programs, 60 Minutes did not offer SSA a chance to respond or be included in the piece. Moreover, the report was entirely one-sided, as the producers did not speak with anyone who receives benefits, or any disability advocates. NOSSCR joined nearly two-dozen national disability advocacy organizations in writing to 60 Minutes’ producers before the piece aired, calling for balance and accuracy in their reporting on the disability programs. 60 Minutes did not respond. Millions of American workers depend on the modest but vital benefits they receive, and it would have been essential, and good journalism practice, to hear their side of the story.

Since the beginning of 2013, there has been an onslaught of biased reporting aimed against the SSA and SSDI recipients. Earlier this year, we reported on a similar story produced by National Public Radio (NPR), which was unbalanced and did not represent the disability system as a whole.

The fact is, American disability standards are the most restrictive in the world. According to the NOSSCR, only four in ten applicants are approved for benefits, which require documented and extensive medical evidence supporting a disability or illness.

It should also be noted that SSDI is not a “get rich” scheme—many recipients live in poverty, as most beneficiaries average just $1,130 per month in payments. These recipients also have a work history—people who receive SSDI benefits have earned work credits, meaning he or she must have paid into the system at some point.

It is harmful when news outlets report one-sided stories about the SSA. If you are eligible for SSDI benefits, we suggest contacting a Tulsa Social Security Disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404.

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