Eight former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration have expressed their concerns about a very misleading and inaccurate series that was broadcast last week on NPR. In an April 8th, 2013 letter, the former Commissioners have presented the facts that should have been reported. We and other Social Security Disability lawyers in Connecticut, in Massachusetts, and throughout the country are continuing to work hard on correcting the misinformation and errors reported by news organizations such as NPR and the Baltimore Sun. Special thanks to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) and to The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities for their great job defending SSDI and SSI. The letter makes some very important points regarding the Social Security Disability programs that I was not aware of:
- About 1 in 5 male DI beneficiaries and 1 in 7 female DI beneficiaries die within 5 years of receiving benefits.
- Despite their impairments, many beneficiaries attempt work using the work incentives under the Social Security Act, and some do work part-time. For example, research by Mathematica and SSA finds that about 17 percent of beneficiaries worked in 2007. However, their earnings are generally very low (two-thirds of those who worked in 2007 earned less than $5,000 for the whole year), and only a small share are able to earn enough to be self-sufficient and leave the DI and SSI programs each year.
- The increase in the number of children receiving SSI benefits in the past decade is similarly explained by larger economic factors, namely the increase in the number of poor and low-income children. More than 1 in 5 U.S. children live in poverty today and some 44 percent live in low-income households.
Read the complete letter:
- To read the CCD response to the NPR
Perhaps the strongest defense of SSDI and SSI came from former Commissioner Michael Astrue at an MSNBC program. Keep in mind that Former Commissioner Astrue was a Bush appointee. He did a great job at refuting the ridiculous notion that "SSD is the new welfare". In fact, he stated that currently the level of approval for SSDI is the lowest since 1978! (Applications are up but not the approval rates.) To see the MSNBC program visit: