Study Refutes Myth of Social Security Disability Cheaters

Posted on Mar 04, 2014

A recent study conducted by Columbia Business School set out to determine whether laid-off workers nearing the end of their unemployment benefits would fraudulently try to obtain disability benefits from federal entitlement programs. The findings refute popular belief that people flock to the disability system as soon as their unemployment benefits are over.

The Columbia Business School is an Ivy League business school that focuses on developments in the business sector. Professor Andreas Mueller, who oversaw the study titled Unemployment Insurance and Disability Insurance in the Great Recession, stated that the unemployed do not directly file for disability.

Researchers for the study looked at data from the past ten years. Sources for this data included statistics gathered from the Social Security Administration. Researchers also used new resources that had never been used in the past to investigate the relationship between unemployment insurance exhaustion and SSDI applications. In the data, researchers tried to determine whether there was a significant increase in applications during the times when unemployment benefits came to a close.

The results of the study found that fewer than 2 percent of workers whose unemployment benefits expired applied for Social Security disability. Even in areas with long unemployment extension periods, there was not a significant drop in disability insurance applications. This, researchers determined, shows that there is no convincing evidence that the expiration of unemployment benefits is what drives a large number of people to apply for disability benefits.

With an increasing concern over Social Security disability fraud, this comes as welcome news. The research suggests that expiring federal unemployment insurance extensions will not have a significant impact on Social Security disability funds.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer