Time to focus on disability benefits
The idea that the Social Security Administration is "lax" in evaluating disability claims is clearly contradicted by the facts. A recent Associated Press article seemed to indicate this fallacy.
As an advocate for people with disabilities, I know firsthand how strict the disability criteria are. Most people who apply for disability are denied, and only about 40 percent are awarded benefits - even after all stages of appeal.
Many beneficiaries are terminally ill; about one in five male and one in six female beneficiaries die within five years of receiving benefits.
Literally every day, I see people with significant disabilities who have been denied benefits.
The main reasons for the program's growth are the aging of baby boomers into their high disability years and the large scale entry of women into the work force in recent decades, allowing more of them to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
The program's growth was expected as far back as 1994. According to the Social Security Administration's Chief Actuary, growth in the disability program is set to level off.
No one knows when disability or illness will strike. That is why Social Security Disability Insurance is an important part of our nation's safety net. Instead of tearing down this vital program with myths and rumors, let us focus instead on strengthening it for current and future generations.
Robert L. Heller