60 Minutes and Social Security Disability

The key to making a convincing argument is to have a study, based on a large enough sample to make the conclusions of the study reliable. In addition the rules of the study must be sound and reproducible. One cannot simply state that because the number of people on Social Security Disability has increased in the past 6 years, that there is fraud in the system. If I, for instance, who has 25 years of experience representing claimants before the Social Security Administration, say that I can only remember a handful of claimants that I believed was attempting to defraud the system, that that then means that very few people are trying to defraud the system. My experience may or may not be average, but it cannot be used to state that there is no fraud in the system

Likewise, the Senator who was interviewed cannot state with any degree of certainty that because his research turned up what he termed fraud in a high percentage of the cases he reviewed that there is a high percentage of fraud in the system. The 60 Minutes story intimated that the Senator’s sample was small. We have no idea upon what basis the Senator’s staffers (Presumably persons with no medical training or experience with disability claims) conclude that any of the claims they reviewed were fraudulent. The Senator, and 60 Minutes for that matter, would have us believe that just because they say so, their assumptions are correct.

The 60 Minutes story on Social Security Disability is provocative. I am glad that our leaders are doing all they can to make sure that the system serves those who need assistance. However, the story itself did very little to convince me that we are in a crisis. In fact the only thing of which it convinced me, something I already know, is that big government programs need to be kept under scrutiny at all times.

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