Tuesday, September 15, 2015

SSDI Allowance Rates Fall Under Obama / Colvin

Over the past year, enemies of the Social Security Disability Programs have waged a campaign of misinformation alleging that the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama has allowed the number of SSDI recipients to soar during his tenure.  An article recently published by The Atlantic shows that official numbers do not back up this accusation.  See Saving SSDI   

The article from The Atlantic notes that: "SSDI has become a more stringent program during the Obama years, admitting fewer than expected new recipients onto program rolls."  Here is a chart showing the actual figures gathered by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Another must read article on this issue was published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Disability Allowance Rates Fall as Social Security Strengthens Oversight of Hearings.  The articles states: 
The rate at which Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) approve claims for disability benefits dropped for the fifth straight year in 2014, new Social Security Administration (SSA) data show. The ALJ allowance rate has fallen from 63 percent in 2008 and 2009 to 45 percent in 2014. Thus, claims that ALJs are “out of control” are without merit.

It should be pointed out also that the only time during the Obama administration when allowance rates increased was when the SSA was under the direction of Commissioner Michael Astrue.  Astrue was appointed by President George W. Bush, not Barack Obama.  Terms for SSA Commissioners are staggered.  When Astrue finished his term, President Obama appointed the the current Commissioner, Carolyn Colvin.  Official data clearly shows that allowance rates for SSDI have dropped, at all stages of the process, under Commissioner Colvin.

This is important information to keep in mind during the upcoming debate regarding the fiscal challenges that the Social Security trust fund will face in the fall of 2016.  As I have stated in previous posts, the problems facing the fund can be corrected with a relatively minor relocation of funds.  However, enemies of the disability programs are trying to manufacture a crisis in which they allege that disability allowance rates have gone wild over the past years.  As you can see from the latest numbers gathered regarding allowance rates, this accusation is completely false.