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News host speaks ill of SSDI recipients

It's a shame that some people try to attach a stigma to receiving much-needed benefits through the Social Security disability program. Recently, Shannon Bream of Fox News made the dubious claim that everyone -- all 8.8 million people -- who received Social Security disability benefits last year did so "under false pretenses." The statement is brazenly false, and it's important that Wisconsin residents understand why.

Bream said, "There are reportedly 8.8 million people in the U.S. collecting disability benefits under false pretenses." If that statement were true, it would mean that all workers who received benefits through the Social Security disability program in 2012 committed fraud, which is simply not the case.

The truth is that SSDI and SSI benefits are a lifeline for many people in Wisconsin and throughout the country, and the vast majority of people who receive those benefits need them to make ends meet.

Too often, people make the claim that it's easy to receive disability payments. Again, that is simply not true. In fact, the Social Security Administration reported that only 34.8 percent of applicants were approved for disability payments in 2010. That number represents a 56.1 percent decrease from 10 years prior.

Wait times to receive disability benefits are long, and applicants often need legal advocates on their side to expedite the process. It's true that some people do abuse the system and commit fraud, but those people are a tiny minority compared to the millions who cannot work because of injury or illness. Recipients of SSDI or SSI payments should not be stigmatized in an already difficult situation.

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

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