SSDI applicants overrun SSDI system causing waste and fraudSocial Security Disability benefits, specifically SSDI, were always intended as a small insurance program to assist a limited number of SSDI applicants who were unable to perform work due to a serious health condition. Now, after fifty years, the Social Security system may become one of the first government programs to run out of money.
The program, serves an estimated 12 million people, grows each year and has a budget of $135 billion. To put that into perspective, thats more money than the Federal Government spent last year on the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the Labor Department combined.
But Congressmen, especially Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, are starting to ask some serious questions about the potential fraud and waste which may have seeped into SSDI. Coburn is concerned that many SSDI applicants may now be approved for SSDI disability benefits but may not actually qualify.
What SSDI applicants should be receiving SSDI benefits?
The SSDI program is only for SSDI applicants who have a severe health condition which will not allow them to work for at least 12 continuous months. Coburn, however, questions whether SSDI applicants are truly disabled or whether they, and their helpful lawyers, have learned to game the SSDI system.
Last year Coburns staff reviewed hundreds of SSDI applicant's disability files and found that 25 percent of them should never have been approved -- another 20 percent, he said, were highly questionable. The result is hundreds of SSDI applicants are being approved who are not really disabled.
Why is the SSDI system so vulnerable? Coburn places the blame squarely at the feet of disability lawyers who he believes troll for claimants, many of which have already been denied disability benefits from the government. Because of the payment system for lawyers, which allows them to be paid on a contingency system if they win cases, claimants have nothing to lose by hiring a lawyer to help them win their case.
For perspective, consider that in 1971, fewer than 20 percent of claimants were represented by disability lawyers. Now, over 80 percent of disability claimants are represented by attorneys or representatives.
Disability cases are lucrative for lawyers
The bottom line is lawyers flock to the money and disability claims can be lucrative. Consider over 70 million dollars went to Binder & Binder, the largest disability firm in the country. Binder and Binder, like other disability firms, have figured out the system and are able to generate millions of dollars a year working disability cases.
The truly disabled lose out
If there are thousands of individuals gaming the system they could be hurting the truly disabled. We need conscientious and ethical lawyers who will refuse to take the disability cases of claimants who are not disabled. This means disability lawyers need to consider more than their potential profits.
Flooding the system with bogus cases not only robs the system. It makes it more difficult for those who are truly disabled to get the help they need. If you are able to work, you are not disabled.