Skip to comments.Government Can't Say No
Posted on 04/13/2014 6:04:37 AM PDT by Kaslin
The Social Security Disability Insurance program is in big trouble. In 2016, the program's trust fund is expected to run out of money. When that happens, there will be "large across-the-board cuts for all beneficiaries," warn James Lankford, the Republican chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees entitlements, and Jackie Speier, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat. Those cuts will be painful for the "truly disabled," whom the system originally was designed to serve.
Washington has a choice to make: provide for the truly disabled or the newly disabled.
The definition of disability was expanded to include mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, as well as musculoskeletal pain. The proportion of Americans deemed permanently disabled doubled over the previous four decades, George Washington University law professor Richard J. Pierce Jr. wrote in a 2011 piece for the libertarian Cato Institute. It's like an epidemic. In 2008 alone, the number of applicants -- 2.8 million -- grew by 21 percent.
In an 11-page memo to acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin, Lankford and Speier faulted administrative law judges for having "rubber-stamped" new applicants. Each new disability recipient is expected to cost taxpayers $300,000. In 40 states, cases reach a judge only after two separate teams of examiners have turned down an applicant. Nonetheless, hundreds of judges have reversed more than 80 percent of the cases before them. The SSA's Office of the Inspector General calculated that the judges approved 930,250 individuals on disability between 2005 and 2012. No wonder the system is going broke.
There's such a huge backlog that the SSA has yet to review cases approved by infamous "red flag" judges Charles Bridges and David Daugherty. According to their regional chief, Bridges awarded benefits to nearly all the 2,000 claimants who came before him each year. Daugherty approved 99.7 percent of cases before him, to the benefit of 8,413 individuals. Estimated lifetime cost: $2.5 billion.
Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle responded that the administration has ramped up its efforts to prevent and detect abuses. The White House has submitted a budget that would fund fraud prevention, and that, too, should help.
Lankford and Speier made a number of common-sense recommendations -- including that the SSA conduct more reviews of existing cases, comb through applications approved by "red flag" judges and require that applicants submit all evidence regarding their conditions instead of only favorable medical reports.
The Republican and Democratic representatives also take issue with Social Security's refusal to allow judges to review social media. They think it should be mandatory for examiners to check Facebook and other websites to see whether applicants who claim back pain are spending their weekends waterskiing or moving furniture. Pierce questions whether judges should look outside legal records to adjudicate claims. If that's the roadblock, perhaps other investigators can look to see what applicants do in their spare time.
When she visited the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board in March, Speier made the general observation that Congress does so little compared with what needs to be done. On this issue, Speier and Lankford have bucked Beltway languor in a bipartisan -- and hence modest -- effort to make the safety net work better.
But I have to say, I like Pierce's idea best. The professor thinks the SSA should get rid of all 1,400 administrative law judges. "They are counterproductive. They introduce more errors than they eliminate," Pierce told me. "They have absolutely no relevant training, no expertise, and they're overruling people who have relevant training and expertise." What's more, he wrote for Cato in 2011, the $2 billion freed up by their removal could be used to "hire a large number of talented people to manage" important programs.
Pierce's solution would not yield the most painstaking justice. But painstaking justice costs too much money. The only way to even the scales that tip in favor of applicants' attorneys would be to hire another army of lawyers to represent the taxpayer in administrative law court -- and that would mean less money for the truly disabled.
I’m not sure this is the best way to look at it.
The Social Security Trust Fund is an accounting entry—there’s nothing real there, just intra-governmental IOUs. A generation back, I believe in the Johnson years, Social Security was collecting more than it paid out, and the Administration put the extra money collected into general funds, rather than buying securities (such as Treasury Bonds) in the open market. Social Security was given IOUs by the Treasury, which cannot be sold in the open market.
Now, the cashflow is going the other way. From an operational point of view, the government will most likely have to admit the sham of the Trust Fund (Al Gore’s famous lock box), and say that Social Security deficits are an ongoing cashflow and taxation issue. Or, it can cut payments—but that’s still a cash flow decision.
In fact, one could argue that the government might wish to use the “Trust Fund” accounting fiction as an excuse to cut benefits in order to keep deficits under control. Or alternatively, use the Trust Fund bankruptcy fiction as an excuse to effectively default on its Social Security obligations in order to fund some more favored expense (reparations?).
A little bit of truth and accounting education would go a long way here.
The easiest way to deal with this is to pass the Fair Tax and make the prebate almost equal to the $721 minimum a disabled person gets in Florida. That way anyone who chooses to not work can do so but those that do work keep all they make and everyone pays taxes on everything they buy.
Social Security Disability Insurance program
Fraud is an easier way to pronounce it.
But... But.. what will happen to all the school kids who are on SSDI? I mean, they have a learning disability, ADHD or a behavior disorder and receive 600 to 800 dollars a month for their LD, BD or ADHD. How will their mom’s can get their nails done at the nail shop now?
One way to resolve this, and many other government frauds perpetrated on us, would be a bounty system. Openly pay people to search out, document and take to court those who defraud the people of the United States.
Next thing you know we’d have a bunch of reality shows about these bounty hunters. Not sure if that doesn’t fall into the ‘downside’ category.
The best way to deal with Social Security is to systematically disassemble it.
1) Limit all new enrollees to just minimum-wage workers with no other retirement. All other workers do not become part of the Social Security and Medicare system, so have zero taxes deducted for that purpose. Importantly, nobody who is not part of the system needs a Social Security card or number.
2) For those who have been paying into the system for less than 10 years, they will receive tax deductions to the total amount they have already paid in FICA taxes, as long as that money goes into their IRA.
3) For those who have been paying into the system longer, they can either stay with the system, or go the IRA route.
4) Those who are already receiving benefits, if they have taxable income, they can choose to not take their SS check and belong to Medicare, since the two are tied together; instead getting deductions greater than the estimated benefits. That is, if they are in good health, they can get more money through tax savings then they would get as benefits.
There is no trust fund so it is not possible for the trust fund to run out of money. What is meant by this announcement is that there will be a tax increase.
Social Security in all it’s form is Welfare. Take from one and give to another.
Sad to have read you’re one of the few (out of the gate) stating ‘dismantle’ instead of ‘how to get around’
It was, and always will be, a Ponzi scheme. I spit on that generation that let our Republic die on the vine (SS, 16th, 17th, gun laws, etc.)
“large across-the-board cuts for all beneficiaries,...”
You don’t say ... but all the sleaze lawyers got their money up front.
Do you mean ones like that urban cowboy (all hat) who has that incessant commercial for B & B?
“...there will be “large across-the-board cuts for all beneficiaries...”
But of course, the politicians who set it up to become bankrupt in the first place won’t lose a single penny.
“Those cuts will be painful for the “truly disabled,” whom the system originally was designed to serve.”
You know, it amazes me that people still believe this crock after everything the government’s done to outright declare social security nothing but a government grab for more money. You can’t opt out of it, you have no actual right to it, you can’t leave it to anyone if you die before collecting, and the government has complete control over it.
Why, why, WHY do people still think it’s meant to help them?