It is not an uncommon belief amongst Americans today that many disability recipients are awarded benefits through fraud. Just how rampant is Social Security disability fraud? The facts may surprise you.

Myth: It is easy to qualify for disability.

Fact: The opportunity to qualify for disability benefits is not open to everyone. In order to qualify an applicant must have worked for five of the last ten years or for at least one fourth of his or her adult life. Out of those individuals who do qualify only approximately forty percent of Social Security disability applicants are actually awarded benefits. This is in part due to stringent criteria to be eligible for benefits, which states that an individual must have a “severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last twelve months or result in death.”

Myth: Disability claims are skyrocketing.

Fact: Much of the increase in the number of disability applicants can be explained by demographics. Today, baby boomers have reached the age when individuals are most likely to be disabled. Additionally, the increase of women in the workforce has increased the potential applicant pool. Even after adjusting the number of individuals receiving disability benefits to account for changes in demographics, the number of individuals receiving benefits rose from just below 4% in 2000 to just above 4% in 2014.


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Myth: Anyone can fake a disability.

Fact: Medical evidence is essential in determining disability. Every applicant for Social Security disability benefits must provide medical evidence showing that he or she has a severe impairment. Reported symptoms alone are insufficient to prove an applicant has a severe impairment. If an applicant does not have access to medical evidence, or the evidence is inadequate, consultative examinations may be ordered and a medical opinion requested. Only then will all medical evidence be carefully considered by decision makers.

Just how rampant is Social Security disability fraud then? The Government Accountability Office found an error rate of only 0.6% regarding improper payments.1 It is time to put the myths to rest.

About Citizens Disability, LLC:

Since 2010, Citizens Disability has been America’s premier Social Security Disability institution. Our services include helping people in applying for SSDI benefits, managing the process through Reconsideration, and representing people in person at their Hearing, and if necessary, bringing their case to the Appeals Council. Our mission is to give a voice to the millions of Americans who are disabled and unable to work, helping them receive the Social Security Disability benefits to which they may be entitled. Learn more about us and disability benefits like SSDI & SSI or give us a call (800)492-3260.

[1] Government Accountability Office, Improper Payments: Remaining Challenges and Strategies for Governmentwide Reduction Efforts, http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/589681.pdf#page=9.