The American Association for Disability Policy Reform    

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Social Security's Poor Investigation of Disability Claimants

(The Need for Community-based Investigation of Disability Applicants)

A major problem of the Social Security disability programs is the Social Security Administration's poor investigation of disability claimants prior to making decisions.   It's a problem that leads to frequent errors in disability decisions and discriminates heavily against the poor (details).

Consider the following examples, keeping in mind that they are typical of the Social Security Administration's handling of about one-third of disability applicants.   The problem illustrated here is a frequent and highly persistent one.   The names are fictitious.

Ridiculous decisions are commonplace in disability evaluations, prompting applicants to ask "What planet are those people living on?"   The reason for this is that Social Security decision-makers commonly are forced to make decisions on the basis of poor information.   One study of 2,454 disability decisions showed an overall error rate of about 30%.   Other studies have supported this conclusion.   Persons with combinations of low socioeconomic status (the poor), little education, and low intelligence are particularly susceptible to these errors.   For them, the error rate is probably around 50%.

Most of the Social Security Administration's decision-makers are well-trained and careful but, lacking good information, they cannot make accurate decisions.   Despite the urging of many, over many years, the Social Security Administration has refused to demand and Congress has refused to fund the careful community-based investigation of disability claimants that is necessary for accurate decisions.   As a result, the errors to continue.

The Social Security Administration's poor investigation of disability applicants affects the poor more than others.   Lacking medical care and past medical records, their applications for benefits are turned down when they should be approved.   They then loose their homes and go without medical care and basic necessities while their disability lawyers "earn" 25% of the ever-increasing back benefits.   Surely reform is needed.


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Last updated on 2/24/15.