I read with dismay the recent article "Ohio doing good job fighting fraud" that your newspaper ran Sept. 20. Social Security disability insurance provides vital assistance to more than 8 million disabled workers and their families. When reporting on a program of this size, context is key as, raw numbers in isolation can be enormously misleading.
GAO's estimates of potentially improper payments represent less than half of one percent of disability insurance payments overall and just 0.4 percent of beneficiaries. This is an incredibly modest error rate by any measure and important context for readers. What's more, as GAO itself makes clear in its report, the methodology was highly limited and failed to take the Social Security work rules into account - so even those very modest estimates of improper payments are likely too high. Finally, GAO findings are mere estimates of potentially improper payments not findings of actual error, let alone alleged fraud or abuse, as your article implies.
It is unfortunate when news articles bury critical facts, especially when it comes to a program as important as Social Security disability insurance, which provides vital benefits to millions of Americans with severe disabilities and their families.
-- Robert L. Heller, Youngstown