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Loveland Social Security Disability Attorney
Loveland Social Security Disability Attorney
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Disability Rights Advocates Set Record Straight After NPR Series

A series that recently aired on National Public Radio (NPR) about the United States' Social Security Disability (SSD) insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs has stirred up a great amount of controversy. The series led to eight former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and other groups publishing responses to the NPR story, which they say included inaccurate and misleading information. These groups attempted to set the record straight about these programs that help millions of Americans who have severe disabilities. The NPR series that aired was titled "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America," and it focused on the high increase of Americans receiving disability benefits over the past three decades. The series also questioned the process used by the government in determining which disabled individuals have severe enough disabilities to qualify for these programs.

The eight former SSA commissioners issued an open letter on April 4 regarding the problems they found in the NPR series. In the letter, they noted that they felt compelled to share their insights into the Social Security system because they have a firsthand understanding of the "dangers of mischaracterizing the disability programs via sensational, anecdote-based media accounts, leaving vulnerable beneficiaries to pick up the pieces."

The letter started by painting a picture of what Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) beneficiaries look like today. According to the letter, about 1 out of every 5 Americans have disabilities, yet approvals for applications for disability benefits is reserved for only those with the most severe disabilities. The letter noted that about 1 in every 5 male beneficiaries and 1 in every 7 female beneficiaries end up dying within 5 years of starting to receive their SSD benefits. There are many individuals in the system try to work despite their serious conditions, though most of these individuals' earnings are usually very low and not enough to support them and their families. In demonstrating the high standards that are set for qualifying for disability benefits, the letter stated that less than one-third of initial SSD and SSI applications are approved. After appeals are made, only about 40% of adult applicants in these programs end up receiving benefits. Furthermore, most child SSI applicants are denied. SSI is a program that is specifically for low-income individuals who have certain disabilities or who meet certain age requirements.

When addressing claims in the NPR series about the significant growth of the SSD program, the commissioners noted that this growth was actually foreseen by actuaries in the 1990s. A few of the major factors affecting this growth include the aging of Baby Boomers (particularly into their "high-disability years") and the influx of women becoming eligible for the program due to the major increases of women entering the workforce in the 1970s and 1980s. There has also been a rise in the number of low-income children in America, which has led to more children receiving SSI benefits. The commissioners stated that the NPR series failed to tell the complete story and "perpetuated dangerous myths" about the SSD and SSI programs and their beneficiaries.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) released a similar statement that included and expanded upon the information from the commissioners' letter. The CCD's statement was signed by more than 100 groups, which included both members and non-members of the consortium. Groups that signed the statement, such as the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), have attempted to help dispel the myths that were previously shared by including many of the facts highlighted by the CCD and the commissioners on their own websites.

Unfortunately, there are many out there who choose to portray the SSD and SSI programs and their claimants in an inaccurate light, adding to misconceptions about the true needs of severely disabled individuals who obtain assistance from the government. If you live in the Loveland, Colorado area and you are having difficulty applying for or obtaining Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, it is in your best interests to consult with a knowledgeable Loveland social security disability lawyer. In addition to having in-depth knowledge about how Social Security program work, we at Busch Law Offices are staunch advocates for those who suffer from life-altering disabilities. Contact us so we can assist you!