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Television program gets the disability benefits program all wrong

Many people in Atlanta look to news programming as a source of credible information. There are, of course, some programs that command a little less respect than they should, but "60 Minutes" is generally regarded as honest and informative. For disability service providers, however, a recent episode on disability benefits has been criticized as misleading.

Many organizations have expressed their displeasure over the episode by attempting to rectify some of the misinformation provided in the episode. Prior to its airing, over 20 national disability groups reached out to the executive editor of "60 Minutes" to remind him that there are serious ramifications for providing inaccurate information about disability benefits. The letter did not seem to make much of a difference, however.

One of the falsehoods that was portrayed in the episode is that there is widespread fraud in the Social Security disability programs. The Center for Economic and Policy Research has countered this claim, noting that the Government Accountability Office has found evidence that only 1 percent of all disability payments are fraudulent.

Moreover, any suggestion that the disability benefits program has grown throughout the recession as people left the labor market to collect disability benefits is wrong. The number of people actually receiving awards fell during the economic recession. This is in addition to the fact that most initial applications for benefits and appeals are denied.

Sadly, this kind of reporting is not at all unique. There are numerous media outlets that portray the disability benefits program as a waste or a hotbed of dishonest and fraudulent individuals. Fortunately, national disability organizations have concrete evidence that counteracts these malicious lies.

Source: Media Matters, "60 Minutes Report Denounced For Disability Misinformation," Hannah Groch-Begley, Oct. 7, 2013

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