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Despite news anchor's claim, little fraud in SSDI program

Residents of Columbia, Missouri, who receive Social Security Disability insurance after developing a disability will likely be dismayed to hear a cable news anchor accuse them of fraud. It may be shocking to hear, but that is what Shannon Bream, a guest host on Fox News' "America Live," claimed on the air recently when she said that 8.8 million Americans receive SSDI benefits "under false pretenses."

The total number of people who were approved to receive benefits in 2012 was 8.8 million. In other words, Bream accused each and every recipient of lying about their disabilities in order to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Readers may consider this to be a relatively minor error on Bream's part, but it can be very serious for the future of SSDI if a perception exists that recipients, who must be found by SSA to be unable to continue to work due to a disability, are "moochers" who are simply too lazy to support themselves. A report about Bream's remark notes that Fox News routinely presents misleading information about the SSDI program to its viewers, attacking the character of recipients and claiming that being approved for benefits is easy, when in fact most initial applications are rejected. If these claims become commonly believed, it could lead to political action against the program in the future.

Not only are the vast majority of SSDI claimants legitimately disabled, it turns out that fraud in the program is a relatively minor problem. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2012 that found that only 4.7 percent of disability payments in fiscal year 2011, including SSDI payments, were improper. Improper payments went down that year by about $5.3 billion, suggesting that whatever fraud does exist is being taken care of.

Source: Media Matters, "Fox's Bream Suggests All Federal Disability Benefit Payments Are Fraudulent," Mike Burns, Feb. 4, 2013

· Our law firm helps guide our clients through process of applying for Social Security Disability insurance and any necessary appeals. Please visit our Columbia Social Security Disability page for more information.

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