We're entitled to reform

Abuses in disability-benefit disbursement should be stopped

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Did you hear the one about the federal entitlement program that’s going broke? Not Social Security, the other one. No, not Medicare, the other one.

If you’re one of the 11 million people receiving a federal disability check, then you know the program we’re talking about.

The program, officially known as Social Security Disability Insurance, is expected to exhaust its trust fund in 2016, nearly a decade earlier than the exhaustion of Medicare’s hospital fund and two decades before the Social Security retirement trust fund goes broke.

When that happens, incoming revenue would only be enough to cover 80 percent of the payments to those deemed too disabled to work. According to conventional Washington wisdom, that means either benefits will have to be cut or taxes will have to be raised to make up the difference.

We advocate a different option: wholesale reform. Like food stamps and other government handouts, SSDI is rife with fraud and abuse. With $137 billion worth of checks going out the door, it’s no wonder.

One need only look at the recent case in New York in which 106 people – 80 percent of whom were 9/11 first responders – have been criminally charged for allegedly faking disability claims. Prosecutors say the ringleaders coached the other 102 defendants on how to lie about depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder to qualify for benefits, which ranged from $30,000 to $50,000 per year.

Indeed, the program that once focused on people who suffered from strokes, cancer and heart attacks is increasingly supporting those with depression, back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and other subjective conditions that don’t necessarily constitute a complete inability to work.

SSDI’s liberal eligibility rules are tilted in favor of providing benefits to new applicants, and its multilevel appeals process enables people with questionable claims to succeed in winning benefits if they are persistent. And because those who receive the checks are rarely re-evaluated, once people enter the program, they stay there. Statistics show less than 1 percent rejoin the work force.

The last time Congress attempted to reform the program, in 1984, it actually made the program worse by relaxing eligibility requirements.

Today, this out-of-control program, which costs more than the combined annual budgets of the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Commerce, Labor, Interior and Justice, has ballooned under the Obama administration while the revenue that supports it continues to decline. The trust fund has run a deficit in each of the five fiscal years under President Obama (compared to the 14-year run of surpluses that preceded his inauguration) as receipts from disability insurance taxes (paid by people who work) exceeded the benefits paid to those claiming disability.

Politicians have kicked the can down the road for decades when it comes to entitlements. The end of the road is fast approaching for the federal disability program. We fear lawmakers will raise taxes to boost the trust fund, a short-term fix for a structurally flawed program.

Instead we hope Congress will have the courage to institute real reforms, such as stricter eligibility standards and continuous reviews of those receiving benefits. We also support amending the administrative law process to include a taxpayer advocate to challenge dubious claims of applicants and attorneys, and reducing the number of appeals granted to those who are denied benefits.

Ultimately, we would like to see long-term disability coverage transitioned to the private sector.

When the Social Security Administration re-examined large numbers of SSDI recipients in the early 1980s, it found that 40 percent were not sufficiently disabled to justify their benefits. Is there any reason to think that percentage would be lower if that same study was conducted today?

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Riverman1
87005
Points
Riverman1 01/16/14 - 06:00 am
7
3
An Example

For those under 65 to receive Medicare it should be an absolute and complete debilitating condition. Fibromyalgia is an excellent example of abuse of the system. The symptoms are muscle pain and stiffness, tiredness, trouble sleeping and memory problems. We pay people monthly checks for THIS? Give me a break...and all the other taxpayers.

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 01/16/14 - 06:28 am
7
3
"And because those who

"And because those who receive the checks are rarely re-evaluated, once people enter the program, they stay there. Statistics show less than 1 percent rejoin the work force."

Imagine that, people getting money to sit around on their butts don't want to stop getting that money!! Is this really a astounding revelation? But, some aren't sitting around on their butts; they are getting that government check and working under the table for someone. They just want the extra income for free!!

myfather15
55764
Points
myfather15 01/16/14 - 06:44 am
8
3
It's worse than we think. There are millions of claims pending!!

I'm just amazed when people seem to act like this is a surprise!! Actually, If I had to make an educated guess, I would say it's much WORSE than we know or that is being reported!!

I just work the local area and almost daily, I see examples of disability fraud. But if you call to report the fraud, the SS office will tell you they don't deal directly with the fraud issue. The FBI will tell you it has too be a "serious" or "big" case, before they will get involved. You can NOT get these guys to investigate an individual case of fraud, to them; it isn't worth their time.

I've arrested people for fighting before, and during the booking process they're asked about their place of employment. Many times people have answered "I can't work, I've got a bad back. I'm on disability." or "I'm waiting on my disability to be approved and start coming in." But these people can still get out here and BRAWL with someone in the parking lot of McDonalds, or burglarize a house by crawling through the window, carrying a 50 inch TV out the door by themselves.

People, it is worse than we think and it's people like this that are destroying our Country!! The Doers of this Country are supporting a group of disgusting liars and theives!! They are greatly contributing to the demise of this Country, off the backs of the type people that BUILT the Country, the workers!!!

People are going to have to get TOUGH, one day!! Tough love IS true love!! It's not this fake, liberal compassion love, but it's REAL love. Teaching one to depend upon themselves and better themselves is real love!!

Junket103
452
Points
Junket103 01/16/14 - 07:45 am
4
2
But more is needed

I applaud the ACES for this piece. As MyFather above points out the problem is much worse then we know and far bigger than abuse of the SSDI program. There are also tremendous abuses in the VA compensation system for service connected disabilities that mirror the SSDI problems. It is not always abuse by outright fraud. Many of these individuals have a health problem. The question is how severe the condition and whether or not it really impacts employment. The system is designed to encourage persistence. Keep filing until you wear down the system or learn the correct wording to convince the agency or judge that you can't work. What is needed if this system is reformed is the following:
- a limit/cap of federal payments to a single beneficiary. Once the cap is reached, no need for further claims or benefits. The cap should include all sources of federal income, including federal retirement benefits, Social Security, VA benefits, etc. Congress could increase the cap annually to keep up with inflation.
- a filing fee for federal benefits. The first claim is free, but subsequent claims should have a filing fee to cover some of the cost of processing.
- publish names of anyone receiving disability benefits from the government. The nature of the disability can remain private.
- reward whistleblowers that identify fraud or abuse of the system, including individual cases in addition to the large systemic cases.
- Anyone found guilty of fraud or abuse of the system should be banned for life from receiving any disability benefits.
- Change the standard from disabled from full-time employment to inability to work even part-time. If someone can work part-time, they could receive greatly reduced benefits.
- Mandatory re-evaluation every 2 or 3 years.
- Any windfall winnings from lotteries, court awards, etc would reduce benefits for SSDI.

ymnbde
10030
Points
ymnbde 01/16/14 - 08:28 am
5
2
O, the irony of

"We'll Deal With The Government, You Have Enough to Worry About"
because the O'dministration has basically become
America's Most Successful (governmental victimhood compensation) Advocates
the lawyers are just accomplices
perhaps they're doing it because of a video?

deestafford
28721
Points
deestafford 01/16/14 - 09:26 am
5
2
This is just one more manifestation of Obama's...

This is just one more manifestation of Obama's attitude of taking from the system because one is entitled because one has been wronged by the system in the past and "Now it's our turn."

Bizkit
33022
Points
Bizkit 01/16/14 - 09:32 am
6
2
Great article-I like the

Great article-I like the first paragraph because it is written like I would write it. Then this part: "The trust fund has run a deficit in each of the five fiscal years under President Obama (compared to the 14-year run of surpluses that preceded his inauguration) as receipts from disability insurance taxes (paid by people who work) exceeded the benefits paid to those claiming disability." because this is another indictment of the economic ruin Obama's policies are driving the country off a fiscal cliff.

dichotomy
34473
Points
dichotomy 01/16/14 - 10:34 am
5
2
"Obama's policies are driving

"Obama's policies are driving the country off a fiscal cliff"

What do you mean "driving"? Folks, we have already gone over the cliff. The only thing left is that sudden stop at the bottom.

As a PARTIAL example, as of TODAY we owe EVERY SINGLE PERSON......man, woman, and child.....in CHINA $1000. That is only PART of our $17 TRILLION dollars of debt.......a debt that we can NEVER repay.

We cannot even pay the INTEREST on the debt without BORROWING MORE JUST TO PAY THE INTEREST ON WHAT WE OWE. We have to CREATE MORE DEBT by BORROWING MONEY just to make INTEREST ONLY payments on our OBAMA DOUBLED DEBT. Driving us over the cliff........don't look out of the front windshield because that is the ground coming at you and it is closer than you think. It's called a downward spiral and it's fixing to screw us right into the ground. When you have to continuously borrow money to pay the interest on your long term debt you are in un-fixable trouble.

carcraft
27067
Points
carcraft 01/16/14 - 10:40 am
5
2
Many people running out of

Many people running out of unemployment are shifting to disability. I read of one case where a lawyer and judge in Stanville Kentucky are running a disability scam ring. Welcome to the new American economy !

Bizkit
33022
Points
Bizkit 01/16/14 - 12:52 pm
5
2
It's just psychotic to ignore

It's just psychotic to ignore the massive 17 trillion debt and then to add insult to injury every year in office having massive deficit spending. Obama predicts to add 744 billion to our debt for 2014, Obama added 680 billion 2013, 1.09 trillion in 2012, 1.3 trillion in 2011, 1.29 trillion 2010,. Bush budget biggest deficit was 1.4 trillion in 2009, 454 billion in 2008, Bush 2007 161 billion deficit, 248 billion in 2006, 260 billion in 2005, 2004 and 2003 were Bush' years with deficits between 375-400 billion. 2002 about 161 billion deficit. 2001 was the surplus year. Obama took office Jan 2009.
Bush was able to fight a war on terror in two countries and generate less deficits than Obama. The increase deficits is likely entitlements which have exploded under Obama.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/16/14 - 03:15 pm
2
1
Based on River's prognosis, I

Based on River's prognosis, I think I'm owed alittle retro-entitlement. Sore muscles, tiredness and trouble sleeping. You name it, I got it. Funny, tiredness would be a result of trouble sleeping. How do you tell if it's the fiber-algae causing it or b/c someone bumped the thermostat up too much?

Bizkit
33022
Points
Bizkit 01/16/14 - 03:25 pm
3
1
Sorry David no entitlement

Sorry David no entitlement but you do qualify for medical marijuana. Hee,hee.

dahreese
4743
Points
dahreese 01/16/14 - 03:51 pm
2
4
The usual choir with the
Unpublished

The usual choir with the usual comments above. It's in newspaper print so it must be true.

And undoubtedly, some of it is.

But can/should we take the examples of abuse cited above and extrapolate them to all of those receiving benefits and just close down all recipient programs?

I think not.

There is one aspect that could help reduce the mentioned abuses - hire enough government employees to better oversee these recipient programs.

More workers equal salaries to spend, equaling more money in circulation to stimulate the economy.

But, then, the taxpayer, for example the usual warbling off key choir members above, would have to pay for what they want -efficiency.

And the taxpayer is not willing to do that.

An economy is created by the flow/circulation of money.

Not the reduction of it.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 05:00 pm
2
3
"But can/should we take the
Unpublished

"But can/should we take the examples of abuse cited above and extrapolate them to all of those receiving benefits and just close down all recipient programs?"

Never saw anyone propose that.

And by the way....the economy is created by hard work and ambition, NOT by the circulation of money by taking it from those who earned it so that those who didn't earn it can spend it.

jimmymac
42941
Points
jimmymac 01/16/14 - 05:11 pm
1
0
HUMBLE
Unpublished

As usual you're correct with your assessments. One of the biggest problems facing our country is the growing segment of society that thinks they're owed something from everyone else. They rarely contribute anything to the common good and exist on taking from productive Americans. Soon the flow of money will rise so high the spigot will cut off. Then there's going to be anarchy in the streets. If the fed ever stops printing money to pay our national debt the whole house of cards will collapse. Then heaven help us!

dahreese
4743
Points
dahreese 01/16/14 - 05:21 pm
3
5
"And by the way....the
Unpublished

"And by the way....the economy is created by hard work and ambition, NOT by the circulation of money by taking it from those who earned it so that those who didn't earn it can spend it."

...the usual warbling off key.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/16/14 - 05:24 pm
1
2
all yall got the fibiamytosis

all yall got the fibiamytosis

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/16/14 - 05:47 pm
3
4
Dang it, dahreese, I wanted
Unpublished

Dang it, dahreese, I wanted to see who long they would continue to bleat like little Republican sheep, without anyone to pick on.

bob0142
480
Points
bob0142 01/16/14 - 06:06 pm
2
1
Yeah, there sure is some
Unpublished

Yeah, there sure is some bleating going in here and a few sheep, but it ain't the conservatives. The first untruth I read in here was a false allegation of a proposal to completely eliminate entire programs, which no one did. The only disdain directed solely at people having opinions did not come from the conservatives either. So yeppers GaC, some bleating to be sure.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 06:29 pm
3
2
GAC and Dahreese. Can you do
Unpublished

GAC and Dahreese. Can you do more than call names and make snide remarks. Can you dispute with facts? I doubt it. You never have. Why is it, Dahreese, that whenever someone doesn't agree with your socialistic ideas, which have a perfect failure rate when tried, you don't present counter facts......you just insult and make childish remarks?

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/16/14 - 07:10 pm
3
3
Whatever happened to balance?
Unpublished

I don’t mind people wanting to reform SSDI, Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, unemployment insurance, and other social programs; especially weeding out fraud. And you would be hard pressed to find anyone on the left who would. But what about reforming how we support tax-funded corporate welfare, dumping taxpayer money into Wall Street, banks, insurance companies, those that conceal income in offshore accounts, that receive taxpayer subsidies while eliminating employment opportunities in favor of cheap labor overseas.

I get tired of those on the right demonizing unions, teachers, single mothers, food stamp recipients, Planned Parenthood, etc. Now you’re going after the disabled? Congress’ own study proved that the increase in SSDI had nothing to do with this administration and its policies. Reform social programs, sure, but in the same breath how about we look at corporate welfare as well. A balanced approach that will result in bipartisan agreement.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 07:18 pm
3
2
Show me a conservative here
Unpublished

Show me a conservative here that supports "corporate welfare." And I don't mean NOT taking their money, but actually giving them money.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/16/14 - 07:40 pm
5
3
When I see ...
Unpublished

the next scathing editorial condemning corporate welfare by the ACES and the myriad of responses by those on the right vehemently agreeing with it, I guess I’ll be better able to gauge it.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 07:48 pm
1
3
I see...since you haven't
Unpublished

I see...since you haven't seen a scathing editorial by the ACES, you assume that all the conservatives are in favor if it. I follow your logic.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/16/14 - 08:18 pm
3
4
Not at all silly.
Unpublished

You said "show me a conservative 'here' that supports corporate welfare." If I do not see an editorial criticizing corporate welfare, and I do not see conservatives on here agreeing/disagreeing with the editorial, then how am I to determine how conservatives on 'here' feel?. That is logic. But you can twist it and keep saying, "so then what you really mean is ..." But that gets old after awhile.

carcraft
27067
Points
carcraft 01/16/14 - 08:18 pm
4
3
I agree with FedEx on

I agree with FedEx on corporations should pay there Fair tax burden. Don't forget that corporations also lift all of us. Thanks to innovative corporations the US is on track to become energy indepenant despit the idiot Obama saying we can't drill our way out of this.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/16/14 - 08:35 pm
5
1
Agreed carcraft.
Unpublished

And I'm all for energy independence. But last year, the two most profitable companies in the U.S were Chevron (no.2) and Exxon (no.1). With tax breaks Chevron paid just 4% on its earnings to the federal government in taxes while Exxon a mere 2%. Do I like that? Not so much.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 08:41 pm
2
2
But the DID pay taxes. The
Unpublished

But the DID pay taxes. The weren't given money for doing nothing. There is a difference between a tax break and welfare.

fedex227
11187
Points
fedex227 01/16/14 - 08:45 pm
4
0
Touche.
Unpublished

But hey, I paid taxes too. Not 100% sure, I'll have to double check, but I don't think I was in the 2% bracket.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 01/16/14 - 08:45 pm
2
2
The amount can certainly be
Unpublished

The amount can certainly be debated, no doubt, but to call a tax break, ie NOT having your money confiscated, welfare is just dishonest.

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