Many aspects of Social Security disability (SSD) are painted with a broad brush. People make accusations that the program is too unwieldy, is administered poorly, takes too long to make determinations, is too lax, is too strict and is beset with fraud. While you may be able to find some support for these issues, to extrapolate them to the entire program is often inaccurate.
Especially when it is the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself that is guilty of the mischaracterization. SSA had announced that it was suspending benefits for around 900 individuals in parts of Kentucky because they had received their benefits with the assistance of a particular attorney. SSA seems to have overreacted due to political pressure to be seen as "doing something."
The attorney has been accused of using fraudulent information to secure these clients SSD benefits. After years of investigation, however, prosecutors have been unable to find enough evidence to charge him with anything. Instead, SSA went after his clients.
While some of them may have obtained benefits by fraud, its blanket characterization of 900 individuals is shockingly unfair. Many of these individuals likely have valid disabilities that prevent them from working, even if some paperwork is questionable.
Late last week, SSA officials announced that they would be restoring benefits to all of the individuals, after a local congressional representative met with SSA officials and another attorney sued to stop the action.
Sadly, three deaths have been linked to the threatened suspension of benefits, by individuals who apparently were overwhelmed with the prospect of losing their SSD payments.
It grossly unfair to terminate benefits in the aggregate. If there is a problem with a determination, it should be dealt with on an individualized basis. SSA should responsibly administer the SSD program and properly evaluate all applications for benefits to ensure that are accurate and that the applicants meet all of the requirements.
If SSA made mistakes, they should only end benefits when they possess specific information that a beneficiary no longer qualifies.
Source: wkyt.com, "Social Security Administration to restore disability benefits for hundreds of people," June 5, 2015