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News commentators use dubious tactics to report on SSDI

It continues to happen. This week we wrote about a misleading NPR report about Social Security Disability Insurance, and now the Fox network, also discussed in one of our previous posts, has again exaggerated the problem of SSDI fraud.

Disabled people throughout Wisconsin rely on SSDI and SSI, and it simply isn't fair that mainstream media outlets continually stigmatize recipients across the board.

The show Fox & Friends recently broadcast what was called a "shocker" of a story, but it turns out their isn't much voltage in the report. In particular, the hosts of the show discussed the recent announcement from the Social Security Administration that officials in Utah found 368 instances of suspected SSDI fraud in that state. In fact, 157 of the suspected individuals were denied SSDI benefits.

Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson went on to suggest that maybe every state had this apparently major problem of disability fraud, and that maybe the problem should be addressed "when we're discussing the budget." Blaming the SSDI program is a common tactic for so-called "budget hawks."

But the truth is that disability fraud is not a widespread problem in Utah, Wisconsin or any other state. In fact, the number of fraud cases in Utah represents less than half a percent -- 0.3 percent, specifically -- of all the people who receive SSDI benefits in the state.

In March 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a report indicating that, of all Social Security Administration payments to recipients in fiscal year 2011, only 0.6 percent were improperly paid.

And let us not forget the fact that 60 percent of applicants for SSDI are denied. In other words, it isn't easy to receive disability benefits.

People in Wisconsin who need SSDI or SSI would do well to consult with an attorney with experience in filing disability claims. The process is difficult enough without a legal advocate on your side.

Source: Media Matters, "Fox's Disability Insurance Fraud 'Shocker' Falls Flat," Remington Shepard, April 11, 2012

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