Alarm bells are ringing in response to a Senate report that
shows 25 percent of Social Security disability benefits were
improperly awarded. But one non-partisan advocate for overburdened
taxpayers isn't overly shocked.
According to Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers
Union (NTU), it should come as a surprise to no one that there
are improper payments throughout the federal government's benefit
"What is news is
how high the improper payment rate is in the disability programs;
and worse, how many problems the federal administrative law system
is contributing to the improper payment and the taxpayer waste
abuse problem," he asserts.
The findings conclude an 18-month investigation by
the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations. Three-hundred cases between 2006
and 2010 were selected randomly.
"Every time benefits are wrongly awarded, the cost to taxpayers
is at least $300,000," Sepp relays. "That's the lifetime benefit
that a typical disability recipient ends up getting."
He contends the entire process for approving disability benefits
deserves scrutiny, as the report found cases in which benefits were
awarded solely on a one-page document that was filled out the day
before a hearing. Also, a person who was disabled as of April 2007
for carpal tunnel syndrome was working as a bartender several
months later. There are even instances of people driving
automobiles after claiming severe arm injuries.
"It has almost become mechanical on the part of many
administrative law judges to just take a quick peek at some
documentation, perhaps not even ask questions of the people at the
hearings, and just rubber-stamp the benefits," Sepp concludes.
"That's in large part, I think, because what we're talking about
here is other people's money -- and the other people are the
American taxpayers. They are not being adequately represented in