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Some Hard Truths About SSD

Opponents of Social Security Disability (SSD) would have you believe that the number of people receiving disability benefits has skyrocketed primarily because of fraud.  Let's examine those assumptions here to determine their accuracy.

Approval rates for initial claims declining

Let's look at two months, January 1985 and August 2013.  In January of 1985, 71,847 disabled workers applied for benefits.  Of those, 34,220 were awarded benefits, which is around 47 percent of the applicants.

In August of 2013, in contrast, 271,235 applied for SSD.  In that month, 73,058 received a benefit award - around 27 percent of applicants in that month. While the percentage varies from month to month, the trend is clear - a smaller percentage of first-time applicants receive SSD benefits today than was the case in 1985. 

According to data from the Social Security Administration, the approval rates for SSD applicants at all levels (including both initial claims and appeals) were down from 56 percent in 1999 to 34.8 percent in 2010.

Rates of fraud far less than reported

Let's also look at the allegations of fraud levelled at the disabled by those who would like to dismantle the safety net.  According to some highly publicized media reports after a Congressional hearing in June of this year, $21 billion in fraudulent benefits are handed out each year.  However, the truth is less dramatic. 

The General Accounting Office (GAO) reported in March of 2012 that the error rate for SSD payments in 2011 was .06 percent.  According to testimony offered at a March 2013 House Ways and Means Committee hearing, the accuracy rate over the previous three years had been 97 percent or better.  Whichever rates you choose to accept, fraud in the SSD system is not worth $21 billion annually, which would translate to around 15 percent if SSD opponents' figures were correct.

If you are having trouble with your application for SSD benefits, you are not alone.  Do what so many others have done: Call Binder & Binder®, America's Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help you get the benefits you need and deserve. 

Source: Media Matters, "Right-Wing Media Miss The Facts On Disability Fraud," Jun. 28, 2013.  

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