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Social Security Disability Program Fosters and Prolongs Destitution

Outline: Persons too ill to work thrust into bankruptcy because of long delays in processing and adjudicating social security disability claims.

Main Digest

Social Security disability programs fail to meet their avowed purpose of preventing those who are too ill to work from destitution. The solution is not in micromanaging existing programs--it is in privatizing them.

Speaking at the National Spasmodic Torticollis Association on September 12th, Frederick Johnson, a Social Security disability advocate for the past 20 years, charges that those who are too ill to work frequently are thrust into bankruptcy because of the long delays in processing and adjudicating patient's claims.

"From start to finish the process can easily take 3 years," says Johnson.

"Loss of one's home is frequently one of the terrible consequences," he continues. "The obscenity is that the denials are administered by bureaucrats paid with money taken from us at the point of a gun through taxes. Ironically, the primary purpose of the Social Security disability Act is to provide a safety net for those who are too ill to work."

In May of 2008, the average length of time for Social Security disability claimants to get a hearing after a hearing is requested, was 16.8 months. The agency's goal is to reduce the time from when one asks for a hearing to the time one gets a hearing, to 250 days.

In 2008, only one of the 141 hearing offices met the Administration's goal of 250 days (8.3 months) from the time one asks for a hearing to the time one gets a hearing--Stockton, CA.

Says Johnson, "Forget Madoff - Social Security is the biggest pyramid scheme ever. It's dependent on an ever-increasing number of payers "joining" in. In 1994, I predicted Social Security would be bankrupt around 2020 because 76 million Baby Boomers would be retiring during the 10 or so years before then. One attorney cautioned, 'You shouldn't be saying that -you'll scare people.' Well, turns out not enough people were very scared. With this recession, Social Security just started paying out more than it is bringing in. Who's going to pay the bill? Your children and grandchildren."

The answer, though, says Johnson, is not fine-tuning the massive bureaucracy; it is in privatizing Social Security" even if it as a small percent at first.

Chile made the transformation in 1980, allowing 10% of the dollars that would have had to go into the government-run system, to be invested in private retirement accounts. Those who joined the private plans then are retiring as millionaires now.

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