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GAO: 36,000 on Disability Received $1.29 Billion in Improper Payments

September 22, 2013
Wynton Hall
Source …..

social_security_checkLast week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that roughly 36,000 individuals since January 2013 have received $1.29 billion in potentially improper cash disability insurance payments.

Disability enrollments have exploded in recent years. Since 2009, 5.9 million people have been added to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, a 23% jump over the last five years. Today, 14 million Americans receive some form of disability check, costing taxpayers an estimated $260 billion (including healthcare costs) annually–over three times as much as taxpayers spend funding food stamps.

Skyrocketing disability enrollments are fiscally unsustainable, say federal officials. According to the Congressional Budget Office, since 2009, the disability program has spent more money than it collected in payroll taxes every single year. The Washington Post reports the disability trust fund will run out of money in 2016.

Some analysts point to the aging baby boomer population as a contributing factor to the increase, but most agree the dour economy is largely to blame. “The disability program is increasingly becoming a long-term unemployment program,” Cornell University professor Richard Burkhauser told the Post. “We see a lot of it now because of the effects of the recession.”

The program’s eligibility requirements have grown increasingly hazy. In the past, those who qualified for benefits suffered serious bodily impairment. Today, over half of those drawing disability claim to suffer from musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain, or mental impairments.

The Post profiled a former Maine millworker named Eugene LaPorte who was laid off in 2011. He had asthma, diabetes, and a heart attack two years before his employer let him go. He, like one out of every 12 adults in this county, now draws a government disability check. But he says he would rather be working instead of riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“These days, LaPorte spends a lot of his free time riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle to bike rallies around New England,” reports the Post. “He enjoys the freedom, but he said he would prefer to be working than collecting a government check. ‘I wanted to go to work,’ he said. ‘Fifty-eight is a ridiculous age to retire.'”

Still, many with disabilities decide not to opt out of the workforce, including individuals with severe disabilities. Richie Parker was born with no arms. For eight years, Parker has worked as an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports, the winningest organization in NASCAR. He does his computer designs the same way he drives himself to work: with his feet.

“Every step of the way in life there have been people that said I can’t do things,” says Parker. “They said that I couldn’t ride a bicycle. There have been people that said I couldn’t live on my own, couldn’t get a good job and support myself, or I couldn’t go to college and graduate. I don’t listen too much to people when they tell me I can’t do something. There’s not a whole lot that’s going to stand in my way.”

Parker says he had two supportive parents fostering his sense of independence and self-sufficiency. However, this is not always the case. As progressive New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff reported, numerous parents in Appalachian hill country are taking their children out of literacy classes in order to bag a $689 monthly Supplemental Security Income (S.S.I) check that the child will receive at least until the age of 18 years of age.

Indeed, 8% of all low-income children in America are now enrolled in S.S.I. as disabled. The cost to taxpayers: $9 billion a year. Studies also show that nearly two-thirds will move into adult disability at the age of 18, says Kristoff.

“This is painful for a liberal to admit,” wrote Kristoff, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency.”

A report by the Obama White House concluded that “workers on SSDI [Social Security Disability Insurance] rarely return to the labor force.”

9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2013 1:26 pm

    To upaces88 can you say Gestapo? Why is it your business what others do? Taxation is theft regardless, people like you are the problem.

    • upaces88 permalink
      September 22, 2013 6:01 pm

      To know someone is committing a crime and say nothing?
      You sound like an OBAMA PERSON TO ME…OR, are you doing the same thing?

      • September 22, 2013 6:44 pm

        Upaces- I am not ashamed to be known by name, and no I am no voter- I leave that for those who enjoy contradictions in life.

    • upaces88 permalink
      September 22, 2013 6:02 pm

      Taxation is NOT the same as giving false information in order to make YOU, me, and everyone else pay for their living.

      • September 22, 2013 6:43 pm

        Do you pay taxes?

        Everyone regardless income pays taxes, what is different from a “government” job and ssi?

      • upaces88 permalink
        September 22, 2013 6:50 pm

        So? Th way you think, if you know someone who takes $$ by robbing another person? Never mind…I can see, you have no ethics at all. You would, more than likely, help anyone who breaks laws….or at least ignore it.
        That is what is wrong with our country right now. The corruption from the top is trickling down to citizens who now thinks it is just find to lie, cheat and commit fraud.

      • September 22, 2013 7:30 pm

        If you could discuss this without falling back on using strawmen I would love to discuss feel free to come over and read what I write as well…and comment as you will- I believe in freedom, not state the two can never exist together

      • September 22, 2013 7:31 pm

        And yes, I will gladly work to keep law breakers from being punished as long as those law breakers are not using aggression against others ;)

  2. upaces88 permalink
    September 22, 2013 10:50 am

    I saw the title of this and found a place to turn someone in. I KNOW THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT…but I know of someone who bought a brand new Motor Cycle, New SUV, New Home. He let it slip that he makes around $40,000 off the books. That just is not right!
    I will contact social security disability. Thank you for running this article.

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