Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fact-Checking Republicans on Social Security Disability

We're going to be hearing a lot about the Social Security Disability program over the next few months. That's because it is the latest "hostage" the Republicans have decided to use as leverage to get President Obama and Democrats to give them what they want. You can read more about all that here, but it comes down to this:
The largely overlooked change puts a new restriction on the routine transfer of tax revenues between the traditional Social Security retirement trust fund and the Social Security disability program. The transfers, known as reallocation, had historically been routine...

The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule...While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts.
As you can see, its simply the GOP's latest version of, "give us what we want, or else..."

In order to prime the pump, Republicans are already attempting to take on the "slackers" who rely on the disability program. Exhibit A: Sen. Rand Paul.

The first thing I'd like to point out is that - from these remarks - it appears as though Sen. Paul assumes that only those disabilities that are visible physically are real disabilities. We all know that is not true.

But Politifact did a great job of fact-checking Sen. Paul's statements. And in so doing, provided us with a lot of information that is going to come in very handy as this whole hostage situation unfolds. On the overall accusations of wide-spread fraud, waste and abuse, here are the facts:
After an audit of disability insurance in 2013, the Government Accountability Office estimated that in fiscal year 2011, the Social Security Administration made $1.29 billion in potential cash benefit overpayments to about 36,000 individuals who were working and making more than $1,100 a month (the limit to receive disability benefits).

The 36,000 people receiving improper payments, while a lot on paper, represent about 0.4 percent of all beneficiaries, the report said.

There are other ways Social Security gives out benefits to those not deserving, but paying people already working is about 72 percent of the problem, according to the Social Security Administration. Factoring that in, the GAO estimates overpayments equaled $1.62 billion, or 1.27 percent of all disability benefits, in 2011. It’s a lot of money, but the disability program is a $128 billion program.
Got that? The level of fraud we're talking about is 0.4% of recipients and 1.27% of benefits paid. As a friend of mine would say, "Now run and tell that!"

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