Rumors of Social Security Disability fraud have been greatly exaggerated. While there are cases of people scamming the system, fraud is not nearly as widespread as some would suggest.
There is a growing narrative that the solution to fraud is to make it more difficult for people to qualify for disability. Currently, however, it is not that easy to go on disability. In fact, about 60 percent of disability applicants are denied, primarily because they have not worked long enough. A person must have worked at least one quarter of his or her adult life and also have worked 5 of the last 10 years to qualify. There must also be bona fide medical reasons: a physical or mental illness severe enough that it will either last for 12 months or end in death.
And it’s not as easy to fake a disability as some contend. While some physical disabilities like back problems and mental illness are not easy to see, this is not to say they are being faked. The main causes of disability are chronic physical disorders, and many psychiatric disorders are also debilitating.
Contrary to what some believe, disability claims are not skyrocketing. While the age group of those likely to go on disability is growing (50 to 64 years old), the actual percentage of workers on disability has only slightly increased since the year 2000. Moreover, older women are more likely to qualify for disability than in years past.
Despite the calls for more stringent requirements to qualify for disability, the U.S. already has more stringent requirements than most advanced economies. The real solution to disability fraud is to detect and prevent fraudulent claims. That being said, Congress has not adequately funded the Social Security Administration’s fraud prevention unit.
The fact that a person entering the work force today has a one in three chance of dying or qualifying for disability before retirement age is reason enough to ensure that disability funds continue to be available to those who qualify. If you are suffering from a debilitating physical or mental illness, a qualified attorney can help you secure disability insurance.