Social Security Administration is Adept at “Weeding Out Disability Cheaters”
A recent article (found here: http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2013/04/10/opinion/ssa-procedures-weed-out-cheaters.html)—itself a response to another opinion piece published to the contrary—extolled the lengths to which the Social Security Administration goes to ensure the integrity of the disability claims process.
That original article asserted that the SSA was insufficiently testing claimants and encouraged the establishment of some “medical test” to weed out current cheaters in the system. However, as the response makes clear, this framework already exists.
“We call this review a Continuing Disability Review (CDR),” states the SSA’s website. “The law requires us to perform a medical CDR approximately every three years, unless we determine you have a condition that we expect will improve sooner than that.”
And, not only does the agency regularly examine current benefits recipients, initial applications must be accompanied by “medically determinable” evidence supporting the impairment asserted. At each of the first two levels of review, the SSA requires the claimant to be evaluated by a doctor (or else have an SSA-employed doctor review all evidence on file). Even so, of those that dispute a determination by the SSA, only 52% eventually get granted benefits by an administrative law judge (moreover, of those that do receive benefits, the majority of recipients are 50 years and older—a population that naturally suffers a larger percentage of disabilities).
The article disparaging Social Security Disability alleged that doctors are generally unable to “disprove a patient’s claim that he or she is suffering from sad feelings or back pain.” But, as the counterpoint makes clear, all assertions of disability have to be factually proven. Mental impairments, for example, are assessed by trained professionals who understand how to identify the difference between a true and faked system.
“There are cheaters in every system,” the pro-SSA article notes, “[but] the SSA has many procedures in place to prevent payment of disability benefits to applicants who are able to work.”