A television station in Kansas is running a piece on a young woman in Kansas diagnosed with lupus who is fighting the denial of her Social Security disability claim. Here's a little excerpt:
The backlog started snowballing about 10 years ago, around the time Jason Fitchner became acting deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
He says that during the Great Recession, a lot of people who had disabilities applied but weren’t necessarily unable to work.
“But they’re on the margin,” Fitchner says. “They can work, but when the recession happens, those are the first people who tend to lose their jobs, and then they apply for disability insurance.” ...
This spring, the agency introduced changes to fight fraud and streamline the application process, including a new fraud-fighting measure that removes the special consideration given to a person’s long-time doctor. ...
[F]ormer administrator Fitchner, now a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, says the agency is obligated to weed out any fraud it can, including the admittedly rare cases of treating physicians tipping the scale in favor of their patients. ...Not surprisingly, Fitchner, who works for a right wing think tank, is pushing the narrative that those who apply for disability benefits aren't really disabled, just unable to find a job. Right. I've been laid off. Instead of looking for work, even though I'm healthy, I'll just apply for Social Security disability, put up with years of delay and probably never get on benefits. Even if I do get on benefits, they'll be far less than what I was earning when I worked. That makes sense. He's also pushing the narrative that refusing to consider the opinion of a claimant's treating physician has something to do with preventing fraud. That's nonsense. Social Security is just trying to bootstrap itself into a stronger position when it defends its decisions in federal court. Folks like Fitchner like to claim that fraud is rampant among Social Security disability claimants even though the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) can't seem to find more than a handful of cases each year. Of course, to Fitchner that would just be proof that OIG hasn't tried hard enough. The existence of widespread fraud is an idée fixe for people like Fitchner. They try to justify their belief regardless of the evidence.
By the way, the woman whose story is featured in the article has systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and now has esophageal problems. Fitchner wouldn't know it but that combination sounds a bit ominous.