CBS News ran a story this week about the “culture to deny” of the current Social Security disability system. Here are excerpts:
Each year, millions of people who are disabled from an accident or disease turn to the federal government for Social Security disability payments – a benefit that every worker who is declared disabled is eligible to receive. It’s a 51-year-old government insurance program – a lifeline of sorts – that every worker pays for through that line-item on their pay stub, known as FICA.
But a two-month CBS News investigation reveals that safety net may not be there when you need it most.
Overall, two out of every three people who apply for federal disability benefits are rejected by a government agency that critics say is out of date, underfunded, and incapable of serving the exploding number of disabled Americans. Waiting times for a hearing in some cities are more than three years.
A two-month CBS News investigation has found that over the last two years, at least 16,000 people fighting for disability benefits died while awaiting a decision.
Overall, the backlog of cases now stands at 750,000 – up 150 percent since 2000.
People wait an average of 520 days for a hearing on their claims.
A two-month CBS News Investigation uncovered a system whose own standards have been called into question – a federal agency reeling from budget cuts and high staff turnover. Doctors making decisions outside their specialties, and inexperienced examiners under pressure to keep costs down.
CBS News has learned that two-thirds of all applicants denied last year – nearly a million people – simply gave up after being turned down the first time.
Given how many claims are ultimately approved, that could mean hundreds of thousands of Americans are not getting the benefits they paid for – and deserve.