Disability Fraud Notes October 19, 2013

By Olivia LaRosa

Disability Fraud Notes is a regular survey of articles about the Disability System in the US. Far too many articles today indict the Social Security System by implication. Far too many talk about the very few scammers. Far too few talk about the largest Social Security scams: the ones initiated by other stakeholders in the system like managers, attorneys and judges. Here is my humble attempt to rectify the balance.

Court settlement gives 4,000 Queens residents new disability claim hearings
TimesLedger Newspapers

Under terms of the settlement, the five administrative law judges will undergo new training and be monitored for 30 months.

“Thousands of disabled workers suffering from financial hardship and declining health will now receive long overdue consideration of their claims, said Emilia Sicilia, director of the Disability Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center.


Here, an article by a college professor in Minnesota typifies the kind of logical error that those who seek to undermine the disability infrastructure use: post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”, is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states “Since Y event followed X event, Y event must have been caused by X event.” It is often shortened to simply post hoc. It is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc, in which two things or events occur simultaneously or the chronological ordering is insignificant or unknown, also referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation, or correlation not causation.

Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection.

Here, the professor is seeking ways to remedy an apparent labor shortage in Minnesota. He is trying to find ways to encourage retired people to re-enter the workforce. This may be a good idea for Minnesota, but good public policy reasons exist that apply pressure in the other direction. Now, young people are finding it difficult to find stable full-time work. That’s an argument for another article.

Professor argues that the number of people on disability contributes to this problem. He notes that the disability roles climb when there is higher unemployment. He implies that the availability of disability infrastructure is a hindrance to economic growth. Therefore, the implication follows that those sick and injured members of society who receive disability payments should just get over it and go back to work.

Especially, he notes, because people can now claim disability for functional problems like chronic back pain, rather than being in the grips of a terminal disease or suffering from developmental disability, that the system is being abused because disability income is not much more than a low-paying job might provide.

“Although low, SSDI benefits replace 90 percent of average earnings for low-wage workers. In 2011, the average monthly benefit for newly disabled workers was $1,067[].” Oh wow. I am definitely going to start living on cruise ships with that much money coming in. Maybe I will purchase my own yacht instead.

He makes policy suggestions, including this one, “Claimants with milder impairments would receive smaller payments.” This suggestion tells the reader that he does not understand how difficult it is to prove to the Social Security administration that you are unable to engage in sustained work. One has to be found completely disabled, or there are no benefits. Period.

You can read the rest for yourself here.

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