Report Blames Definition of “Disabled” for SSDI Fraud
According to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Social Security Disability Insurance system was a victim of fraud on the part of 80 retired New York police and firefighters. The individuals reportedly collected disability benefits after claiming to be suffering from victims tied to their work at Ground Zero following 9/11. The scammers allegedly took $400 million in benefits that there not properly entitled to.
In the report, Congress is handed some of the blame for the occurrence of these and other incidents of fraud due to its expansion of the definition of “disabled.” This new definition as to who has a qualifying disability has resulted in a near doubling of the rate of SSDI payouts to non-elderly adults since the 1980’s. This is true despite the fact that Americans have generally seen improved health throughout the past three decades.
According to the study conducted by researchers Mark Duggan and Scott Imberman, able-bodied Americans are now regularly approved for SSDI benefits under the new, due to more lenient medical criteria. The NYPD and FDNY retirees, for example, were allegedly coached on how to qualify for benefits, including claiming that they could not sleep, perform simple arithmetic, or go outdoors. Despite their claims, the retirees involved in the fraud were reportedly discovered piloting helicopters, riding jet skis, and running half-marathons.In Texas, a reported 595,925 non-elderly adults collect SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration states that the increasing rate of qualified disability benefits recipients is attributable to aging Baby Boomers. The study by Duggan and Imberman, however, claims that it was the changes to the definition of “disabled” that are the largest factor in the increase. The study claims that the change accounts for 45% of the increase in men and 36% of the increase in women receiving benefits. In contrast, it alleges that 14% of the growth in males receiving SSDI and 4% of the growth in women receiving SSDI can be accounted for by population aging.
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