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Social Security Disability: fact versus fiction

Insurance, not welfare. A sufficient amount of paid-in payroll contributions over time as a threshold requirement for eligibility, not government largesse. An earned benefit, not a handout.

In a nutshell, the above depictions set forth most succinctly what Social Security Disability is -- and what it is not. Objective commentators on the longstanding program are often at odds with opponents who routinely try to run it down.

Factually based writers rightfully point to SSD as a social insurance program that is funded through taxpayer contributions and pursuant to which only persons who establish eligibility through a most exacting process are entitled to collect benefits. On the other hand, program naysayers frequently portray it in starkly inaccurate terms, seeking to tinge it in an unsavory way by implying that benefit recipients often cheat the system and take freebies from the government.

The truth is that the eligibility door is closed tight in all cases where injured or ill persons have not contributed sufficient amounts to the program through payroll taxes. There are no exceptions to this, no sneaking in the back door.

Additionally, and only in those cases where requisite proof of program participation has been established, an arduous and lengthy vetting process awaits claimants. Most of them are denied benefits in the first instance and must persist in their claims. Many of them need to appeal findings to ultimately prevail. Throughout the process, there are exacting and voluminous paperwork requirements, including the inclusion of medical records. The entire process can -- and often does -- take years.

Social Security Disability benefits are a lifeline for ill and injured employees who can no longer work. For those workers who have sufficiently contributed to the program and meet the government requirements of disability impairment, collecting benefits is a right, not an act of government benevolence.

An experienced disability attorney can provide further information and help claimants at every step of the application process.

Source: Jackson Sun, "Social Security disability as social insurance," Beth Bates, May 30, 2014

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