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Are the unemployed defrauding SSD program? Researchers say no way.

Here is undoubtedly what critics of programs pursuant to which government benefits are distributed to select individuals wanted to see from recent university research findings: a misuse of the Social Security Disability program by people no longer able to collect jobless benefits.

Those critics must be flatly disappointed by the findings.

Indeed, the bottom line in a new study carried out jointly by professors from several of the nation’s leading universities, as stated by head researcher Andreas Mueller from the Columbia Business School, is this:

“[T]here is no convincing evidence that workers whose unemployment benefits have expired apply for disability insurance on a large scale.”

That conclusion is in stark contrast to what some people have argued in recent years, namely, that the SSD program and process is being unfairly -- and often fraudulently -- tapped by persons without disabilities who simply lack further access to unemployment paychecks. That claim has fueled criticisms of the government’s disability program and calls for reform.

The new research strongly refutes that assertion and perceived reality. The actual reality, as noted by Mueller speaking on behalf of his study colleagues, is that “fewer than 2% of workers whose unemployment benefits had expired actually applied for disability insurance.” The study scrutinized nearly 10 years’ worth of relevant data in reaching that conclusion.

Mueller’s team confirmed its results by also looking at data in states granting lengthy extension periods for collecting benefits to unemployed residents. Persons contending that SSD claimants are bilking the system might reasonably argue that disability claims would drop in many instances where unemployed persons found that they were able to receive jobless benefits for longer periods.

The data do not support that, either, again showing very little correlation between unemployment benefits and SSD applications.

“The evidence is just not there,” says Mueller.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Study reveals new insight about Social Security Disability benefits amid agency's influx of problems," Columbia Business School, Feb. 10, 2014

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