Earlier this month, we wrote about a change proposed by the Social Security Administration that could make the approval process for Social Security disability more difficult. Pressured by lawmakers, the SSA has proposed a rule that requires anyone applying for SSD benefits to disclose “all relevant medical information,” including information that could actually reduce their chances of approval.
This change could lower approval rates for Social Security disability benefits. Considering that only about 40 percent of current applicants get approved and receive benefits after all stages of appeal, it would be hard to argue that the system is too lax. In a recent opinion piece written by an SSD attorney, the author argues that continuing to reduce access to this important financial safety net runs contrary to the original goals laid out by President Franklin Roosevelt.
When it was enacted in 1935, FDR said that Social Security was meant to safeguard the “security of the men, women and children of the nation against certain hazards and vicissitudes of life.” Prior to Social Security, even individuals who retired in good health often lived the remainder of their lives in poverty. Things were even worse for individuals who could not work because of a disability.
The author also reminds us that Social Security funds are not simply a handout given to those deemed worthy to receive government help. Rather, they belong to the Americans who have worked hard to pay into the system.
To be sure, the SSA is experiencing problems and many fear that Social Security is no longer financially sustainable. But the approach to this problem should be to find a way to make it sustainable rather than simply making it more difficult for Americans to access the funds that remain.
Source: The Buffalo News, “Letter: Social Security belongs to workers who paid into it,” Jeffrey Freedman, March 20, 2014