Lawyer who represent Social Security disability claimants have always known that the disability system is clogged up with frivolous claims. People, for one reason or another, who file a Social Security disability claim when they know they don’t qualify. Some people file claims even though they’re able to work full-time, and other people file claims even though they haven’t worked long enough to qualify for benefits.
But we’ve also known that many of these frivolous claims are from people who have been forced to file by their long-term-disability insurance carriers. Now word is getting out to the general public about this problem of LTD carriers filing frivolous Social Security disability claims and causing people with legitimate claims to have to wait longer for resolution.
The Dallas Morning News carried a long article about this problem recently. Here are excerpts from the story:
The Social Security system is choking on paperwork and spending millions of dollars a year screening dubious applications for disability benefits, according to lawsuits filed by whistle-blowers.
Insurance companies are the source of the problem, the lawsuits say. The insurers are forcing many people who file disability claims with them to also apply to Social Security – even people who clearly do not qualify for the government program.
The Social Security Administration defines “disabled” much more stringently than the insurers generally do, so it rejects most of the applications, at least initially. Often, the insurers then tell their claimants to appeal, the lawsuits say, raising the cost.
The insurers say that requiring a Social Security assessment is a standard practice and that there is nothing wrong with it. The policies they sell allow them to coordinate their benefit payments with others to make sure no one is paid twice. Thus, if a disabled person can get benefits from somewhere else – like workers’ compensation, a disability pension or Social Security – the insurance company can reduce the benefit check by that amount.
The flood of referrals, however, is making it hard for Social Security to respond to people who are truly disabled, said Kenneth Nibali, the former top administrator of the Social Security disability program.
“Anybody who is forced to come into this system, and who doesn’t need to be there, is affecting someone else,” said Mr. Nibali, an expert witness for the plaintiffs. “They’re holding up cases for the people who have been waiting for months and years, who in many cases are much worse off.”
The number of people waiting for hearings on their disability claims by an administrative law judge has more than doubled since 2000, and the average wait has grown to 512 days in that time, from 258 days.