Would it surprise anyone if THE MAJORITY of the people getting disability payments in this country are scamming the system?
More than one out of every 20 Americans of working age was collecting Social Security disability payments as of March, but the system designed to judge claims is overloaded and bungles more than a quarter of the cases, according to a new report by a Senate investigative subcommittee.
Investigators looked at 300 cases in which disability was approved and found adjudicators regularly ignoring red flags in applications, such as incomplete or inconsistent information.
That finding is consistent with the Social Security Administration’s own internal reviews and signals a system in need of an overhaul, said Sen. Tom Coburn, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, who led the study and said some of the decisions coming from administrative law judges (ALJs) — one level of the process — are so bad they make the final judgments seem almost arbitrary.
“I think you could flip a coin for anybody who came before the Social Security Commission and get it right just as often as the ALJs do,” he said.
Disability is one of the two major parts of the Social Security system and is designed to provide support for Americans who are unable to work because of physical or mental impairments. Benefits start months after a claim is approved, and two years later, beneficiaries also can begin to collect Medicare.
…Last year, Mr. Coburn highlighted the case of a man living as an adult baby, which meant sleeping in an adult-sized crib and wearing diapers, who was collecting disability even though he displayed carpentry skills on a reality-television program and maintains a website for other adult “babies.”
The man said he was investigated after Mr. Coburn brought attention to his case and was cleared of wrongdoing.
His case, though, raises other questions. The investigative staff on the subcommittee said the list of jobs ALJs use hasn’t been updated since the 1970s, meaning it excludes many computer jobs that those who have some disabilities might be able to perform.
Hearings before an ALJ are conducted entirely based on the record compiled and on the applicant’s own say-so. Mr. Coburn said he would like to see an adversarial system in which someone from Social Security is there to raise questions.
Yes, folks, we do have a system that’s so lax we take people’s word for it and allow adult babies to qualify. Is it any surprise that 1-in-20 Americans are taking advantage of a system like that?
Sure, there are some people who are legitimately disabled, but this many? Not even close. Not only has the number of “disabled” Americans more than TRIPLED since the Nixon Administration, but the growth in people on disabilities has been LARGER than the number of net non-farm payroll jobs created since the recession ended. No one begrudges help to people who are legitimately disabled, but no one wants to be scammed either. It’s time for the government to get serious about weeding out the fraud in the whole process and thank goodness Tom Coburn is trying to do the job because there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other people in D.C. who are concerned about wasting taxpayer money.