Insurers are pushing unqualified applicants for disability benefits into the Social Security system, according to critics quoted today in a New York Times article.
A “flood of referrals” from insurers is making it difficult for the Social Security Administration to help people who are truly disabled, Kenneth Nibali, a former administrator of the Social Security disability program, told the Times.
Forcing individuals who don’t meet the criteria for being in the Social Security Disability Insurance program into the SSDI system holds up payments to individuals who need benefits, Nibali says.
Insurers quoted in the article insisted, however, that they were handling disability claims in a fair and legal way.
The average wait for applicants waiting for hearings on Social Security claims by an administrative law judge is 512 days, the Times reports.
SSA officials estimate the SSDI trust fund could run dry by 2026, the Times reports.
Insurers whose claimants are accepted by Social Security can take much or all of benefits costs off their rolls, transferring the costs to the government, industry critics told the Times.
The Times refers to lawsuits brought by people who allege that some insurer claim-referral practices constitute deliberate fraud, which would violate the federal False Claims Act.
Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn., a company cited in one of those suits, responded by calling the article “biased toward the viewpoint of the plaintiff’s attorney.”
Unum says there is no merit to the case, company spokesman, Jim Sabourin says.