Last week, we blogged about a Washington Post article, indicating that the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid about $1.3 billion in potentially faulty Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit payments from December 2010 and January 2013. The report came from statistics compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Following the release of the report, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) issued a press release indicating that it may have contained misleading information in order to gain media attention. First, the CCD reported that the methodology used did not take into account the SSA’s work rules, making it faulty.
The CCD release said that the GAO report did not include “impaired-related work expenses” (IRWEs), which are deducted from a person’s earnings or benefits. These include items such as wheelchairs and specialized work equipment. The GAO statistics also did not take into account “unsuccessful work attempts” (UWAs), according to the CCD, which occur when a person with disabilities attempts to work for a brief period of time before or while receiving SSDI, but is unable to because his or her disability interferes with his or her abilities.
Had the GAO taken into account UWAs and IRWEs, many so called “improper” payments would have fallen under SSA rules, meaning the GAOs estimate of $1.3 billion was probably too high. As we reported last week, the $1.3 billion figure represents less than 1 percent of the total SSDI benefit payments made during the period the statistics were pulled, and only included 36,000 people.
It was evident that the media is attempting to use the GAOs information to portray the SSA’s system as faulty while attempting to report the story. Many headlines focus on the $1.3 billion amount, rather than the fact that less than 1 percent of SSDI recipients may have wrongfully received benefits. To read the CCD’s release, you can visit their website.
If you suffer from a disability and are unable to work, we suggest contacting a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney. We offer free consultations, and you may reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050. Contact us today.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers