Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford continues review of disability program

Lankford says the Social Security disability program will be insolvent in less than three years and that the system should be cleaned up so it doesn't fail those who need it.
by Chris Casteel Modified: November 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm •  Published: November 20, 2013
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— Rep. James Lankford continued Tuesday to pursue problems in the complex and expensive Social Security program for disabled workers, saying at a hearing that the system is barreling toward insolvency as more people collect benefits.

Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, who held a subcommittee hearing in June on the system, asked key Social Security Administration officials Tuesday to testify about how they are combating fraud and ensuring judges are properly scrutinizing applicants.

“There are truly disabled people ... that can be hurt on this if we don't find a way to be able to resolve this issue soon,” Lankford said.

The disability program is less than three years from being insolvent, and lawmakers and the agency should do everything possible to guard against improper payments, he said.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said the program is a lifeline for the truly disabled and the Social Security Administration has been taking steps to ensure only qualified people are receiving benefits.

However, she said she was troubled by the backlog in reviews of cases.

“It is also troubling to learn that benefits are still being paid to some who have died or who have been incarcerated,” she said.

Funding cited

Speier said part of the fault lies with Congress for not giving the agency more money to do the necessary reviews.

A Social Security official testified Tuesday that an additional $1.2 billion in money to conduct disability reviews could ultimately save taxpayers $40 billion over the next decade.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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