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Separating truth from political fiction about SSDI

For many Americans, Labor Day signifies three things: the unofficial end of summer, the beginning of football season, and the beginning of a barrage political commercials that will last until November. While many people are not worried about (or really care about) politics, candidates want to sell you on what you should be afraid of, and that they have the solution to ease your fears.

One of the common political calling cards is fiscal responsibility, and the easiest target for political fodder is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The commentary may range from how the program is so abused, how much it costs American taxpayers to how soon the fund will run out of money.

To counteract the political sales pitches, it is important to remind our readers of how vital and helpful to millions of Americans SSDI is. 

To begin with, qualifying for SSDI is notoriously complex and difficult to obtain, despite the increase in the types of conditions that are covered. We have highlighted in previous posts how many more people who receive disability benefits due to mental disabilities compared with 30 years ago. An applicant has to prove that they are unable to maintain a "substantial gainful activity" (i.e. maintain steady employment) because of an impairment (physical or mental) that is expected to last at least one year.

Qualifying under this standard is not easy, and as many as 60 percent of all initial applicants are denied benefits. Moreover, there is no evidence supporting the notion that fraud is rampant, as Congress has not uncovered evidence finding fraud separate from what the Social Security Administration has found.

As such, readers should take candidates statements about SSDI with the proverbial grain of salt.  

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