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Critics Claim ’60 Minutes’ Got SSDI Story Wrong

Posted on October 14, 2013

It didn’t take long for critics to blast a recent report on the show 60 Minutes that cast the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program in a negative light and characterized it as a de facto welfare system. The accusations leveled at the piece ran the gamut from biased reporting to outright distortion.

The piece entitled “Disability USA” promised to expose the SSDI program as a bureaucracy run amok that is rife with waste and fraud. To support this contention, Steve Kroft, the reporter on the piece, interviewed Senator Tom Coburn, an inveterate critic of SSDI and fiscal conservative who has held up senate spending bills on everything from tornado relief to veteran’s benefits.

Hardly an unbiased source, the senator implied that the rising rate of those receiving SSDI might be attributable to fraud. His comment, “So, where’d all those disabled people come from?” said it all. Interestingly, no policy experts, disability advocates, or those who actually receive disability benefits were interviewed for the story.

According to The Nation, had the 60 Minutes piece chosen to delve a little deeper it would have reported the actual fraud rates for SSDI. The Nation said that what the piece didn’t report was:

  • The U.S. is actually one of the most restrictive nations when it comes to issuing disability benefits. We are only second to South Korea.
  • Only one-third of those who initially apply for disability benefits are approved. More than 60 percent are still denied after appeal.
  • Demographics can explain most of the rise in SSDI applicants. The natural rise in SSDI beneficiaries is due to an aging baby-boomer generation and the surge of women who joined the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s. This rise was predicted as far back as 1994.
  • Only workers who have contributed enough to the program through payroll taxes are eligible for benefits, making accusations that SSDI is a “welfare” system specious at best.

If you believe that you are eligible for SSDI benefits, contact the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits attorneys at Farah & Farah in Gainesville to learn the truth about your prospects and how we can help you receive the benefits you deserve. Unfairly painting those who can’t work due to disability with a broad brush of fraud ultimately hurts those who need these benefits just to survive.

Do you have questions? Contact Farah & Farah online or call us at (800) 533-3555 for a free, no-obligation consultation.