Social Security Disability recipients the subject of mischaracterizations and misinformation

Social Security Disability recipients have long been the subject of mischaracterizations and misinformation.  Criticisms of the program often take the form of accusations that the requirements for eligibility – especially in the realm of mental health – are insufficiently strict.  And these attacks are not limited to adults.  Social Security Disability for children is similarly targeted.

Thankfully, there are academics and professionals working to debunk these myths.  One example is a recent article by Kathy Ruffing and LaDonna Pavetti from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – titled SSI and Children with Disabilities: Just the Facts.

Ruffing and Pavetti emphasize a crucial truth: “Discussion and debates concerning this program should be rooted in facts and data, not impressions misimpressions, and anecdotes.”  And the paper goes on to discuss a number of these misimpressions, from countering the notion that eligibility requirements are too lax to showing how effectual benefits are to helping children rise out of deep poverty.

Notably, the article is clear: “There is no credible evidence of widespread abuse among families receiving SSI for disabled children.”  Anecdotal claims of abuse arise from time to time, but “data…do not appear to support this criticism.”

Granted, no program is without its problems.  One identified by the authors of this study is the underfunding of “continuing disability reviews.”  The authors suggest that, without the appropriate resources allocated to periodically checking on recipients, “some beneficiaries remain on the program too long, and the federal government incurs unnecessary costs.”

Yet, as the article makes clear, blame for this inadequacy should not rest at the feet of disabled children or their families.  This is a policy issue, one that needs to be better addressed by Congress.

But, until then, the 1.3 million disabled children receiving monthly benefits should be fairly assessed by the media and politicians.  They represent about 1.7 percent of U.S. children.  And they deserve the help the receive.

That paper can be found here: