Social security disability was a program made to help those in need with actual disabilities, and not intended to be a fail-safe for the welfare program. But that’s what it has become.
I have learned about inmates with two social security cards to claim more dependents, and two disability claims. They use a mother’s maiden name to obtain a second social security card, then claim they suffer from ADD, or bipolar disorder and sell their medications.
In 1996 President Bill Clinton signed into law the welfare reform act, ending in concept entitlements. This new law required welfare recipients to find work within two years, and limited receiving assistance to five years. Prior to the passage of the Welfare Reform Act, social security disability recipients were level at 10.92 percent increases for 15 years. After passage of the law those numbers jumped to 54.57 percent, clearly showing a shift from welfare over to social security disability. While disability numbers rose exponentially, the welfare rate dropped 65.41 percent during this same time, based on data listed in the New York Times Almanac of Record Book by John W. Wright.
In “The Real World” by Kerry Ferris and Jill Stein, the authors supplied a figure of $608 billion being spent on social security in 2011. Prior to the passage of welfare reform, social security spending was $331 billion according to the Almanac, supporting my theory of entitlement abuse within the social security disability program.
This ongoing abuse of our disability system makes me sick, because everyone knows the social security administration does not have the manpower to investigate tax fraud, let alone disability fraud. Rhode Island’s current cost of Medicaid is 30 cents of every dollar collected, where prior to welfare reform it was 10 cents to every dollar.
This post is published as part of the Prison Op/Ed Project, an occasional series authored by CCRI sociology students who are incarcerated at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institute.