SSD and SSI get the ’60 Minutes’ treatment

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2013 | Social Security Disability

If the “60 Minutes” crew wanted to get people talking about Social Security disability programs, they may have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Unfortunately for them, much of the outrage inspired by the “Disability, USA” report has been directed at “60 Minutes” itself. The segment aired earlier this month, taking SSD programs in general to task; the state that received the most coverage was, thankfully, not New York.

Disability advocates, fact-checkers and media watchdogs accuse the venerable news program of relying on anecdotes and misinformation in painting a picture of waste and abuse across disability programs, including Supplemental Security Income. Their criticism extends to a recent story on National Public Radio’s “Planet Money,” as well. Both stories were misleading and inaccurate, the critics say, and neither included essential facts about the Social Security disability system that did not support their arguments.

Think Progress put together a list of facts that show just how wrong the reports are. We thought the information was worth sharing.

1. SSD programs have the strictest criteria in the developed world, and they are the least generous, with the exception of Korea, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Remember, fewer than 40 percent of applications are approved — that isn’t just initial applications, either; it is applications that have exhausted all appeals.

The people who do get benefits have severe and often terminal illnesses. They suffer from cancer, congestive heart failure, multiple sclerosis, emphysema, kidney failure, severe mental illness and other debilitating conditions.

The programs don’t just take applicants’ word for it that they have a disability. Benefit determinations are based on medical evidence at every stage of the process.

2. The programs are highly efficient, and the fraud rates are very low.

How do we know that? We’ll get to that in our next post.

Source: Think Progress, “Nine Facts That Prove Disability Insurance Isn’t A Giant Boondoggle,” Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad, Oct. 16, 2013