Unfortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) has once again become the target of political attacks despite a lack of evidence supporting those attacks. The latest uproar comes from comments by Florida Congressman Allen West. Last week, West stated that, because SSDI beneficiary numbers have been growing, “…we are creating a system of economic dependence, which, to me is a form of modern, 21st-century slavery.”
As we have discussed in several posts in the past, the evidence suggests otherwise. Here are a few of the reasons why Congressman West’s remarks miss the target:
- You can only receive SSDI benefits if you worked long enough to pay into the system; SSDI is a form of insurance not free money, so, if your work history is insufficient, you cannot receive SSDI benefits
- We should expect SSDI beneficiaries to grow – our population is growing, Baby Boomers are aging (with age comes an increased chance of disability), Congress has expanded the types of disabilities that qualify people for benefits, more veterans have been in combat in recent years, and the workforce has grown faster than ever before due to gains by women and minorities
- Disability benefits are not extravagant – SSI benefits are around $700 a month, and SSDI averages a little over $1,100 a month; for comparison purposes, the federal poverty level for a single person is $11,170
- As studies that came out last fall demonstrated, Congressman West’s comments may also not be too wise politically – states that typically support his political party also tend to be the biggest recipients of federal aid like Social Security benefits
Unfounded criticisms also take the focus away from the people SSDI fails to reach – the thousands of applicants we discussed two weeks ago who die from their disabilities each year before they start receiving benefits, or the veterans we discussed Wednesday who have nowhere to turn and end up homeless after serving our country.
Are you or a loved one suffering from a medical condition that prevents work? If so, speak to our Tulsa OK Social Security disability lawyers to find out whether you may qualify for disability benefits.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys