Over the last few weeks, the topic of Social Security disability benefits has been making headlines all over the nation. First, as we recently reported on our blog, news outlets were in a frenzy last week after hundreds of retired emergency responders in New York City were charged with fraudulently collecting disability benefits. Second, political websites all across the country have been reporting that federal lawmakers are currently considering the very frightening possibility of cutting Social Security disability benefits to help fund a one-year extension of unemployment benefits.
The unfortunate reality is that stories like the one out of NYC and actions like the one currently being considered by Congress only serve to reinforce the unfair and altogether unfounded stereotype that the majority of disability claimants are somehow engaging in fraudulent conduct or are unnecessarily reliant on SSD benefits for their livelihood.
As we’ve said before, however, this simply couldn’t be any further from the truth.
The simple truth is that the Social Security disability program is structured in such a manner as to act as a possible bridge to full-time employment, meaning the benefits conferred are supposed to act as a supplement — not a substitute for — wages.
Indeed, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently pointed out that those receiving SSD benefits are able to earn up to $1,070 in wages per month without compromising their benefits such that they are able to “test their ability to return to work.”
In addition, the advocacy group RespectAbilityUSA recently released a survey showing that three out of four people with disabilities placed greater value on having a job and its subsequent independence than they did on dependence on government benefits. However, the survey went on to show that as much as 70 percent of people with disabilities who are of working age are currently outside the workforce, suggesting employer hiring patterns need some degree of reform.
Facts like these should help illustrate the folly of the aforementioned attitudes, and help shed some much-needed light on the altogether difficult realities facing many recipients of SSD benefits.
If you would like to learn more about your rights and your options for securing SSD benefits, consider contacting an experienced and dedicated attorney who can help guide you through the complex process.
Source: The Los Angeles Times, “An awful idea: Hammer the disabled to pay for unemployment benefits,” Michael Hiltzik, Jan. 10, 2014; Human Resources Executive Online, “Disabled Americans want jobs, not benefits,” Kristen Frasch, Jan. 13, 2014