Social Security Disability Insurance is an important part of the social safety net that aims to protect people if they become disabled and unable to work. Workers fund SSDI through contributions from their payroll taxes and, in exchange for paying these taxes, they are supposed to receive benefits if they suffer a qualifying long-term disability.
Unfortunately, the SSDI program has been under attack due to allegations of fraud and supposed inefficiencies in the system. Our Tulsa, OK SSDI attorneys know that there is already a very high denial rate for disability benefits applications because of concerns about dishonest applicants. Now, a new article has indicated that the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into fraud and waste. This investigation could potentially lead to changes or to a tightening of the laws that make it even more difficult for the disabled to obtain the benefits they need.
SSDI Fraud Investigation Underway
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the number of people enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program increased from 5.58 million people receiving benefits in 2003 to 8.83 million people receiving benefits in 2012. This is an increase of almost 60 percent.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that two letters written by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have identified fraud as a possible reason for the dramatic increase in the number of people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Improper payment is also identified as a possible reason for the increase in claims. This improper payment is allegedly caused by mismanagement. Those asserting mismanagement point to proof of the improper payment in a 2010 Government Accountability Office Report. For example, the article indicates that people are receiving SSDI benefits despite being able to pass a rigorous physical exam to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Passing the exam, it is argued, means they cannot be disabled and yet they are receiving benefits.
Finally, a third area of concern identified is structural flaws in the SSDI program. In asserting that the program is badly designed, data from an MIT economist is cited which indicates people may get better benefits and more money if they remain on SSDI rather than trying to re-enter the labor force.
Suggested Ways to Fight Fraud
In addition to asserting fraud, the letters assert that past recommendations to curb abuses have not been implemented. Past recommendations for fighting fraud include conducting more thorough reviews into the income of applicants and more thorough reviews of the medical state of recipients.
Because the past recommendations have not been implemented, wholesale reform of the SSDI program is now being called for, reportedly in order to save the program from potential collapse that could be brought on by too many claims.
Fighting for Your Right to Benefits
Unfortunately, it is already very difficult for people to obtain benefits as there is a very rigorous application process in place and as many claims for benefits are already denied.
With continued allegations of fraud and abuse, any changes made or new regulations passed are likely to make it even more difficult for people to apply for benefits. This is unfortunate, as one of the likely reasons for the increase in claims is that baby boomers are aging and are thus more likely to become disabled and in need of benefits because they are unable to work.
For those seeking benefits with legitimate claims that are denied, it will now be more important than ever to have an advocate on your side to help you make a successful claim.
If you need help obtaining disability benefits in Oklahoma, contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700.