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Disability Fraud – Challenging Stereotypes Part 2

In our previous segment on disability fraud, we discussed how cases of fraud
account for less than 1% of disability claims.

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Social Security Disability Insurance is not a welfare program, it is an insurance program. As many as one third of workers become disabled or die over the course of their careers and only 7% of low-wage workers have an employer-provided disability plan.

The majority of people who apply for benefits have their claims denied. Even still, some politicians will claim that we are becoming a nation of “takers” instead of a nation of “makers” and growing numbers of Americans on disability programs is a sign of entitlement culture. This is false; the increase in Americans participating in the Social Security program is due to demographics. The baby boomer generation is aging, and policy changes will need to be made as a result. In the past, congress has handled demographic shifts by reallocating revenues from other programs.

Public perception is important. Social Security Disability Insurance is a program that all tax payers have paid into. It is not a welfare program, it is an insurance program. As many as one third of workers become disabled or die over the course of their careers. Only 7% of low-wage workers have an employer-provided disability plan. This problem is compounded when you consider that low-wage professions in retail, construction, and transportation have high rates of on-the-job accidents. Employer disability coverage is disproportionately extended to those is low-risk white-collar professions.


The recession has caused an increase in Social Security disability applications but only a 5 percent increase in accepted applicants.

Many attribute the recent increase in disability applicants to the economic downturn. The ugly implication in naming the recession as the cause of an increase in benefit payouts is that people are receiving benefits out of economic desperation and not actual inability to work. The Social Security Administration claims the recession caused only a five percent increase in the number of accepted applications. However, application rates increased significantly. This shows that the recession did have an impact on the number of people applying for benefits, but because the system is designed to help only those who need it most, the increase in applications did not result in an equally significant increase in beneficiaries.


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Nobody is becoming rich from their Social Security payouts.
The average benefit payment for an unmarried individual is $1,165 and the majority of those who were denied benefits went on to earn less than $1,000 per month.

Social Security disability payments are minimal but crucial to those who receive them.

The Social Security Administration’s administrative budget is only 1.4%. This means they are spending only 1.4% of the millions of dollars distributed through the program to ensure those dollars are distributed properly. Even with this tight margin, cases of fraud are very rare. The average benefit payment for an unmarried individual is $1,165 in 2015. For half of beneficiaries this payment is 90% or more of their income. Nobody is becoming rich from their Social Security payouts. However, as meager as these benefits are, they are essential to the financial security of those receiving them. Even more unfortunate is that the majority of those who were denied benefits went on to earn less than $1,000 per month.

<-- Back to Part 1


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