Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has written a piece for The Hill about Social Security disability. Here are a few excerpts:
In May, over a thousand West Virginians and Kentuckians went to their mailbox and found letters telling them their disability checks would soon be cut off.
Why? Because a government watchdog group had reason to believe that yet another lawyer and/or doctor was involved in Social Security fraud. ...
It is time for a major overhaul of the disability system and a renewed focus on the disabled. Before the SSDI program goes insolvent in 2016, there are things that Congress and the Social Security Administration can do to protect the program for those who rely on it and the taxpayers who fund it.
A step in the right direction would include preventing individuals from receiving checks for the earned income tax credit or unemployment benefits and Social Security disability in the same year. ...
The “vocational grid” that defines which jobs are available in America has not been updated since the mid 1970s. Obviously, a few things have changed in the American economy since the ’70s, but the definition of employment used for disability has not changed.
Many of these are potentially productive citizens who may have an additional challenge to employment, but they are not incapable of work.
Currently, disability attorneys are paid by Social Security offices around the country, not by the individuals who hire them. Disability attorneys take a portion of the disabled person’s check from them if they win the case, but the federal government is tasked to extract that fee from each individual and become the third party to every disability legal contract.
Why not allow the person who hired the attorney and signed the contract to also pay the bill?
The incentive for the attorneys is to delay the case as long as possible, so their payment can extract the maximum amount from the disabled person’s check at the end.
No law or regulation prevents a lawyer acting on behalf of a claimant from delaying a hearing by introducing new evidence moments before the hearing begins, effectively forcing the judge to put off the hearing. This prevents the claimant from getting benefits to which he or she may be entitled, but it ensures a bigger paycheck for the lawyer. That’s not how it works in a regular court, and that’s not how it should work for SSDI. ...