“60 Minutes” Misses the Mark on Social Security Disability

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

What happens when a major journalism program runs a program without interviewing both sides? You get something like what “60 Minutes” aired in early October in “Disability, USA.” It’s one of the media’s favorite topics, “exposing” disability fraud on the part of the claimant. But how much truth is there to the allegations made on “60 Minutes”?

After watching the show, the viewer is lead to believe that almost anyone with any medical condition could be approved for Social Security Disability. You hear from an administrative law judge that the standards are too lax. However, over 66% of all disability claims are initially denied. Thereafter, only about 10% win disability benefits on appeal. The application and appeal process alone takes months, if not years. This sure doesn’t sound like an easy way to survive. Even if benefits are ultimately awarded, they are taxable and paid only on a monthly basis with the average disability payment of about $1,100.00.

While it’s true the number of disability claimants has increased, this is hardly surprising. Overall, we have an aging population which increases the ratio of disabled claimants. Likewise, with jobs scarce, those with disabilities are having an increasingly difficult time finding work.

It’s very disappointing that no one at “60 Minutes” took the time to interview a single disability applicant. If they had taken the time, they would have learned that the application is an arduous process. Failure to present your medical records or respond within strict timeframes, results in an automatic denial. Recently, one of our workers’ compensation clients reported that he underwent two separate disability applications and four appeals (cumulatively) before finally being approved in 2013. He has been out of work since 2006.

For more information, check out “Just the Facts” as well as this article published by the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives in response to “Disability, USA.”