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What if the SSDI program is not big enough?

Some arguments are better than others. A strong argument tends to be logical, and to provide evidentiary support for its assertions. Sadly, when discussions of the Social Security disability (SSD) insurance program occur, they are often full of weak arguments wrapped in innuendo surrounded by anecdotal evidence.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial claims that SSD has "morphed" into "bonanza" that costs "billions more than it should." Really? And what sort of support does the WSJ marshal to support this assertion?

It apparently fell back on seven-year-old data on approval rates of selected administrative law judges. From the editorial, you would never know that these rates have been falling and that in some cases they may have been justified. Additionally, part of the approval was due to Bush-administration era programs to reduce the backlog of SSD hearing appeals.

But what about the overarching notion that SSD costs much more than it should? How much should it cost? How would they know? Our SSD is one of the most difficult disability programs of any advanced western nation from which to obtain benefits and only about 40 percent of applicants are approved, many only after a lengthy appeals process.

A careful study of the program could easily lead to an opposite conclusion. That the program provides insufficient support for disabled workers and that the benefits should be enhanced and made more comprehensive.

Given the difficulty of obtaining benefits, many who may be eligible may simply give up. This is why the assistance of attorneys is necessary. The bureaucratic and medical complexities of the application process are so intricate that without help, it is far too easy to forget to include necessary medical records or to misunderstand requests for additional information.

It is essential that SSDI be preserved and protected for the millions of disabled workers who depend on the program's benefits.

Los Angeles Times, "Why did the WSJ use years-old data to attack Social Security disability?" Michael Hiltzik, March 9, 2015

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