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Reminder: SSDI is a social insurance program, not welfare

Most readers are aware of the financial problems facing the Social Security Administration with respect to the Social Security disability fund, which is set to be exhausted by the end of 2016 if no action is taken. The problem has been the subject of debate between lawmakers intent on coming up with a solution to salvage the program.

Although the financial problems facing the program are serious, it is unfortunate that the message in the media is often one of shaming SSDI beneficiaries. Critics of the program point to a myriad of issues connected to these financial challenges, but not always providing full disclosure on the facts. The tendency is to paint a picture of the Social Security disability which inspires disgust for the public and shame for those who are benefiting from it. 

This stance is taken particularly by conservatives, who often misinterpret Social Security disability as a government handout. In fact, Social Security disability is not a handout but a social insurance program. Beneficiaries of the program receive payments because they have paid into the program and have met specific qualifications.

Social Security does have another disability program that could be classified as welfare—the Supplemental Security Income program. The latter is primarily aimed at disabled adults and children with low income and limited resources.

Those who feel they may qualify for Social Security disability should not hesitate to put together an application. In doing so, it can help to work with an experienced SSDI attorney, particularly if an appeal becomes necessary. 

Source: NBC News, “Disabled Recipients of Social Security Fund Face Hefty Benefits Cut,” Martha C. White, June 22, 2014. 

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