We can only hope that no one takes this analysis/opinion in the Washington Times seriously. It’s from a senior analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis. The Heritage Foundation is a right wing think tank that promotes public policies and is considered one of the world’s most influential public policy research institutes. Maybe that’s why we find this so troubling.
Simply put, this is a dangerous idea and our hope is that airing it out will deflate it – quickly.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is close to running out of money in the near future, and the result will be across the board cuts in benefits, possibly by 20%. This writer proposes that SSDI incorporate an optional, private disability component to ease the financial problems of SSDI.
For the record, our firm does not represent Social Security Disability Insurance claimants.
We understand the extra level of financial support that an SSDI benefit check can bring to a disabled worker. Our representation of claimants who hold disability policies from work (ERISA) and purchased privately (individual) almost always includes an SSDI component.
From our viewpoint, handing over this federal program to the insurance sector would be nothing short of an epic disaster.
Competition does not keep private insurers from hiking premiums when they want money. If markets are underperforming and their own investments are doing bad, disability insurance company have a quick source of income: tightening the noose on claimants. Deny more claims, protect more cash. It costs them nothing to hang onto cash while claimants wait for denials and terminations to be fought.
As for private disability insurers being highly motivated to get workers back to work, yes, we know that from firsthand experience.
When our clients, who are dying of cancer or AIDS or can’t move their bodies because of the ravages of degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, are told that their benefits have been cut off and they should get back to work, we know the insurance companies are highly motivated.
Their inability to feel the human suffering is a wonderful way to get workers back to work.
Our clients would far rather have their health back and be able to get their lives back. This article says SSDI lets far too many people apply for and receive benefits. In other words, anyone collecting SSDI is a malingering fraud.
We hear the heartbreaking stories every day when people call our office, often in a panic about what will happen to their families, their homes and their lives because their disability benefits are going to be terminated. Just imagine millions of Americans subjected to the same treatment.
Private disability insurers are more efficient than the federal government? That may be so – but we’ve also handled enough cases to see job evaluations thirty years behind the times, selective review of medical records that courts rule are prejudicial against our clients, and medical reviews of complex illnesses that are completely misunderstood by inexperienced claims personnel with no knowledge of medicine.
Don’t get us started.
Insurance companies are a lot more like the federal government than you would think. If we were searching for an alternative for the federally-run SSDI, they would be last resource we would consider.