Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued about $1.3 billion in potentially faulty disability payments to people who held jobs while claiming they were unable to work between December 2010 and January 2013. But are they right about these SSDI recipients?
It should be noted that the figures represent less than one percent of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit payments paid during the period. The Government Accountability Office estimated that 36,000 people improperly received benefits.
“During a time of growing concerns about the solvency of the [disability insurance] trust fund, it is important that SSA take every opportunity to ensure that only eligible beneficiaries receive payments under this program,” the report said.
Sen. Tom Coburn R-Okla., a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said in a statement that the information “demonstrates just how little importance the Social Security Administration places on policing its disability rolls.”
To get disability payments, a person must have paid into the system through taxes and have earned work credits. As the Post reported, they must also document that they earned no more than $1,000 per month for five months, a requirement meant to ensure that their disabilities are long-term.
According to the Post, Democrats expressed concerns, but said that lawmakers need to provide adequate funding to the SSA in order to combat improper payments. “It would be shortsighted for Congress to reduce the funding needed to conduct that type of oversight to strengthen federal disability programs,” Sen. Carl Levin D-Mich. said, according to the Post.
The Social Security system is not perfect. We would be the first to admit that one percent of people receiving improper benefits is not acceptable. However, as Sen. Levin mentioned, the solution may be to strengthen the program from within, beginning with oversight. Any discussion of “reform”, a buzzword for reductions and funding cuts, would be misguided and hurt people who need benefits the most—the disabled, who are unable to work.
If you suffer from a disability that leaves you unable to work, we suggest contacting a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney to see if you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. We offer free evaluations of your case, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 265-1404. Contact us today.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers