The recent editorial “SSDI is nothing but government social welfare,” (July 29) was misleading and does not tell the full story of the disability program. The article’s central claim about who qualifies for benefits is clearly contradicted by the facts. As an advocate for people with disabilities, I know firsthand how strict the disability criteria are. Most people who apply are denied, and only about 40 percent are awarded benefits even after all stages of appeal. Many beneficiaries are terminally-illl; about 1-in-5 male and 1-in-6 female beneficiaries die within five years of receiving benefits. Literally every day, I see people with significant disabilities who have been denied benefits.
The main reasons for the Social Security Disability program’s growth are the aging of the baby boomers into their high disability years, and the large-scale entry of women into the workforce in recent decades allowing more of them to qualify for SSDI today. The program’s growth was expected as far back as 1994. According to the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary, growth in the disability program is set to level off.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a vital piece of our nation’s safety net that helps many of our local neighbors on a daily basis. Instead of tearing down this vital program with myths and rumors, let’s focus instead on strengthening it for current and future generations.