Jan 13, 2014

The Predictable Response

     Rupert Murdock owned media rush to claim that fraud allegations in New York City are proof of deep seated problems with the Social Security disability programs.
     In my mind, bank robberies aren't a sign that we need to shut down our banks. Fraud on Wall Street isn't a sign that we need to shut down our financial markets. Crime is crime. You take reasonable steps to prevent it. When it happens anyway, you punish it. You don't use it as an excuse to shut down vital institutions relied upon by the public.
     And, by the way, everyone needs to remember that no one has been convicted. Anyone writing about these charges needs to use the word "alleged." It's not simply a matter of fairness to those accused. It's a shame when someone who has been convicted gets off on appeal because hostile media coverage made a fair trial impossible.


Anonymous said...

In addition to the individual cases of fraud that appear in various newspapers occasionally, in recent years there has been the apparent collusion and widescale fraud by Eric Conn and ALJ Daugherty, the massive fraud in Puerto Rico, and now the fraud in NY, which could potentially encompass as many as 1000 people and has been going on for many years. Hardly unreasonable for members of the media to think there might be a problem with the disability program if such large-scale fraud is occurring in various parts of the country and going undetected for years.

Anonymous said...


You need perspective. Over 14 million people get SSD. Even if many times the number of beneficiaries you discuss did wrong, that represents a small fraction of 1% of all SSD beneficiaries.

Yes, we all agree that the law should keep after that small percentage of wrongdoers that afflict almost every program, organization, or group. But is the SSD program out of control when even all of the alleged fraud involves a small fraction of 1% of the beneficiaries? Despite the ravings of a sensationlist media, the answer is no.

Anonymous said...

While the total percentage might be relatively small, the money involved is not, and every time money is paid to someone who does not deserve it, that it less money available to those who do truly qualify. The "trust fund" is large, but not infinite.

More significantly, if you knew the background of these massive fraud cases and you knew what SSA management tells its employees, the pressures placed on ALJs, the failure to take seriously the reports by staff of misconduct or fraud, and the general push since Astrue began his tenure as Commissioner and which has continued under Acting Commissioner Colvin to pay cases because that helps reduce the backlog, you would realize that there is an institutional problem that needs to be addressed.