A report released on September 13 by congressional investigators held surprising news. Social Security made $1.3 billion in potentially improper disability payments to people who had jobs when they were supposed to be unable to work.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), 36,000 workers got improper payments from December 2010 to January 2013. Although it is estimated that the numbers represent less than 1 percent of beneficiaries and less than 1 percent of disability payments made during the time frame, it is concerning because these critical benefits did not get to the people who need or deserve them. The discovery reveals inherent weaknesses in Social Security’s policing procedures and comes at a time when Social Security’s disability program faces a financial crisis.
According to projections by Social Security’s trustees, if Congress doesn’t act, the trust fund that supports the disability program will run out of money in 2016. At that point, only 80 percent of the benefits will be paid, resulting in an automatic 20 percent cut in benefits. In view of the fact that nearly 9 million disabled workers receive disability payments equaling $137 billion, this is sure to create a huge negative impact on people with disabilities. Social Security will need to strengthen procedures that police disability payments in order to prevent waste and fraud.