Thursday, March 28, 2013

Social Security Disability Media Lies

Just like with a lawsuit, anybody who has a Social Security number (and who has also paid Social Security taxes for a given length of time) can also file a Social Security disability claim (SSDI); but it doesn't necessarily mean they'll ever be awarded anything --- and most often they aren't.

As an example: In 2011, under President Obama, only 35.4% of all SSDI claims were awarded. Ten years earlier in 2001 under George W. Bush, 46.1% were awarded.

But if you only watched Fox News, you'd never know that. You might think that anyone who wanted to, could go on the government dole --- and that it's very easy to do. Not true.

The NPR published an article saying, "In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed...Every month 14 million people now get a disability check from the government."

Not true. It's not 14 million, it's only 10 million, and that's only if you included dependent children. It's currently 8.8 million if you only count disabled working-age people. If you included retired persons, it's over 55 million.

The Center for Economic Policy Research recently critiqued the NPR's article about disability, disputing their reasons and claims, saying "While the segment had many interesting stories, and presented useful background, it got some of the basics wrong." (That was an understatement.)

Arthur Delaney at the Huffington Post had earlier co-authored a great piece saying, "Some members of Congress have begun leveling accusations that rising enrollment in Social Security's disability insurance program is evidence of growing American dependence on the government, and even a 'slave' mentality."

Arthur saw the NPR article and e-mailed me, knowing my personal situation and that I'd also be interested. He and I are both disputing Bill O'Reilly's claim, who had once said, "So why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim. Right now President Obama and the Democratic Party lead the league in entitlement spending and promoting a nanny state philosophy."

Mister O'Reilly was 100% wrong on all of his bogus claims.

In his email Arthur had extrapolated that "the original NPR story made it seem like all people have to do is raise their hands to enroll in SSDI. I know from the data that more than 60 percent of all initial claims are denied, and from conversations with disabled people, the process is also a hassle."

Which I know all too well from my own personal experience. The process is very time consuming, sometimes taking years to complete --- not to mention the slew of forms and documentation that is needed to process a disability claim (I often complained about the Paperwork Reduction Act, just like the VA is currently having problems with in processing their claims.)

After I first went online to file my initial SSDI claim in January 2011, I was eventually sent to see three Social Security doctors for medical evaluations. Then after a few months I received two separate written denials for two written appeals on my initial claim. It was only then did I get a local lawyer for an appeals hearing before a judge in 2012.

Months later I was denied again. Then I contacted Binder and Binder, who is now representing me in an Appeal to Counsel. If I lose there, the last step is district court. The government is not just "giving away free money" under Obama's administration --- the Social Security Administration makes it very difficult. It's almost as though they suspect that most claims are bogus (and that's very hard on people like myself, who are trying to survive on a ZERO income and food stamps).

But multi-millionaires like Bill O'Reilly and John Stossel on Fox News are telling their viewers that "millions of Americans are just leaving their jobs to go on Social Security disability" (which only pays an average of $1,111 a month). No Bill, they are NOT voluntarily leaving their jobs with a HOPE of going on the government dole to earn 50% less than they would have with honest wages.

In Arthur Delaney's article at the Huffington Post he refers to a report from the Congressional Budget Office that says the rise in America's ranks of disabled stems from an aging population, a surge in women workers...and a terrible economy in which disabled people can't find jobs.

He also points out that there are actually LESS younger workers applying for SSDI, and that it's mostly because of an aging population that we have an increase in claims --- and so, it's because of the demographics alone, and that we should also expect more SSDI claims in the future, but not necessarily just because of high unemployment.

The number of people who are receiving Social Security benefits did not "skyrocket" under Obama, although SSDI CLAIMS have risen since the recession. But the number of people who are actually being AWARDED SSDI benefits is no greater number (either as a percentage or as a total) under Obama than under any other President (except under Ronald Reagan, when claims actually decreased).

And it's not necessarily just BECAUSE of high unemployment that more Social Security disability CLAIMS are being filed, but also (and mostly) because of the aging demographics of our workforce. Not to mention, we also have a much higher population than when Jimmy Carter was our President (we now have 100 million more people). Let's look back at the last 30 years that Chana Joffe-Walt wrote about for the NPR:

There were 2,861,253 American receiving SSDI benefits when President Jimmy Carter left office --- but only 2,830,284 working-aged Americans were receiving SSDI benefits when Ronald Reagan left office (that's 30,969 LESS than when Reagan first entered office). Only 381,000 SSDI claims were awarded under Reagan, for an average of only 47,625 a year.

That number jumped to 637,499 SSDI claims that were awarded under George H.W. Bush (An average of 159,374 a year), up a whopping 90.1% annual average (or 81.6% in actual claims awarded) since Ronald Reagan. There were 3,467,783 working-aged Americans who were receiving SSDI benefits at the end of George H.W. Bush's 4 years in office.

1.6 million SSDI claims were awarded under Bill Clinton (An average of 196,818 a year), up 19% a year from George H.W. Bush. There were 5,042,334 working-aged Americans who were receiving SSDI benefits at the end of Bill Clinton's two terms in office.

Then there were 2.4 million SSDI claims that were awarded under George W. Bush (An average of 298,108 per year), up 34% a year from Bill Clinton. There were 7,427,203 working-aged Americans who were receiving SSDI benefits at the end of 2008.

Now we've had 1.4 million SSDI claims that were awarded under Barack Obama over his first 4 years (An average of 350,148 per year), up a mere 15% a year from George W. Bush. --- although Obama still has 4 years left in office).

But still...there aren't 14 million as the NPR claimed...and it's not up 100% as Bill O'Reilly had claimed. And the sky isn't falling either.

Of course most of us already know that Bill O'Reilly doesn't want his taxes going up, and that he's only pushing his ideological agenda of less government spending in a growing (and older) population, while cutting taxes for the increasing richer "top one percent" (like himself). And Bill O'Reilly's claim of disability awards rising 100% is just as bogus as anything else we've ever heard from him.

Currently 8,827,795 working-aged Americans receive SSDI benefits as of Obama's first term in office. You can go here for all the data I collected with direct links to the original government sources.

As an aside: It's also worth noting that just by BEING long-term unemployed can also exasperate a pre-existing condition --- and people who once stood on their feet for 8 hours a day and did manual labor for many years, can develop muscular atrophy that prevents them for doing the work that they were previously qualified to do.

I was laid off in 2008 and a few months later I was experiencing sever muscle cramps in my arms and legs, and it wasn't until then did I realize I had atrophy, in conjunction to the arthritis in my neck and back. By that time I had already gone past my "point-of-no-return".

To the unemployed: Exercise and stay in shape! When I was working my work was my exercise. Unlike Bill O'Reilly, I didn't just sit behind a desk and shuffle talking point memos.

When you're hired to do a job, you have to hit the ground running. No employer is going to allow you to gradually reacclimatize yourself physically into the work environment. You'd first need some serious physical therapy before applying for a job. So keep fit if you get laid off.

The Congressional Budget Office had said, "In the aftermath of the recent severe recession, applications for DI benefits reached a historic high, exceeding 2.9 million in calendar year 2010." (Note: They used the word "applications", not "awards".)

But remember...just like with a lawsuit, anybody can FILE a Social Security disability claim, but it doesn't necessarily mean they'll ever be AWARDED anything.

So in conclusion, either Bill O'Reilly is just an uber-rich con artist and a liar, or an ignorant and incompetent "journalist". But you can stop crying now Bill. There's no need to worry, you'll still be a very rich man when you die.

Google "Bud Meyers Social Security" for more articles.

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