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Social Security Disability – The Truth Behind Media And Political Mischaracterization

By Pitt Dickey

August 27, 2014

This column was written by Barbara Silverston, Executive Director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives and can be read on The Hill’s website. A brief excerpt is included below:

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE: THE TRUTH BEHIND MEDIA AND POLITICAL MISCHARACTERIZATIONS

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is an integral part of the Social Security system that provides vital economic security to workers and their families. SSDI provides modest but essential coverage that American workers earn, and protects against the economic devastation that often accompanies life-changing disability. Unfortunately, recent media coverage (including recent opinion pieces in The Hill) has painted a highly inaccurate picture of this program, in an effort to encourage damaging changes that would hurt people with disabilities.

Eligibility criteria for the SSDI program are extremely strict and only people with the most significant disabilities qualify for benefits. An applicant must prove with medical evidence the inability to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (defined as earning less than $1,070 monthly in 2014), due to a physical or mental impairment expected to result in death or last for at least one year. Most applicants are denied; only about 40% are approved, a fact which belies claims that there is a “systematic bias” toward approving applicants who are not actually disabled.