Effective September 3, 2013, SSA has replaced the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in its regulations.  The change reflects the widespread adoption of the term “intellectual disability” by Congress, government agencies, and public and private organizations.  The preface the the final rule acknowledges that the term “mental retardation” has negative connotations and has become offensive to many people, resulting in misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder and those who have it.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) supported this change as well as the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives ( NOSSCR).  The support provided by CCD, as well as that provided by other national groups advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities, is specifically mentioned in the preface to the final rule.

Congrats to SSA for making this change!

From a study by Gary Koenig of the AARP Public Policy Institute and Al Myles of Mississippi State University:

Social Security’s economic impact starts when its recipients spend their benefits on goods and services.The businesses that receive these dollars use them to pay their owners and employees, purchase additional items to sell, and pay rent, taxes, and the other normal costs of doing business. Their suppliers in turn use the revenue they receive to pay their employees, suppliers, and so forth….

 Every dollar of Social Security benefits generates about $2 of economic output.

2012 Social Security benefit payments in supported:

  • About $1.4 trillion in economic output (goods and services)
  • Just over 9.2 million jobs
  • About $774 billion in value added (gross domestic product)
  • More than $370 billion in salaries, wages, and other compensation
  • Tax revenues for local, state, and federal governments exceeding $222 billion, including $78.9 billion in local and state taxes and $143.3 billion in federal taxes

Social Security Overpayments

November 13, 2013

The Social Security Administration is overpaying big sums of money to disability beneficiaries — and lawyers, consumer advocates and watchdogs say the agency’s own missteps are to blame.

Long after notifying Social Security that they have either started working again or earn too much income to qualify for benefits, some disability recipients continue to receive payments for months or even years. It’s not until a notice from Social Security shows up that they discover they now owe tens of thousands of dollars to the agency due to these overpayments.  Receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration stating that huge sums of money are owed is a terrifying experience.

The Government Accountability Office [GAO], which oversees the Social Security Administration, says that budget constraints and huge backlogs of people applying for disability have delayed the reviews of income information that alert the agency to remove beneficiaries who no longer qualify. As a result, the Social Security Administration has made $1.3 billion in overpayments in just two years, according to a recent GAO audit.

We think that they need to devote more resources to this,” said Steve Lord, director of forensic audits and investigative services at the GAO. “Right now getting people off the [disability] rolls is secondary — they have to balance their resources between getting people off the rolls and getting people on the rolls.”


Disability Claims Skyrocket

November 6, 2013

 While there has been a lot of attention paid lately to the surge in disability payments since the start of the Great Recession, the Social Security actuaries predicted the trust fund would run out in 2016 way back in 1995. That was just after the last time Congress diverted tax revenues to it.

There are several reasons why the number of people collecting federal disability has soared to nearly 11 million, up from 8.7 million in April 2007.

The aging of the baby boomer generation is one of the primary drivers. Workers typically enter the disability program in their 50s. So the spike in recent years is not a huge surprise for simple demographic reasons.

Also, more women have entered the workforce in recent decades, making them eligible for the program should they become disabled.

Certainly, the economic downturn pushed more people into the disability program too. It can be much harder for the disabled to find jobs when the labor market is tight, experts said.   

Despite the increasing claims, disability benefits remain a crucial lifeline for individuals who are unable to work.  


If you have questions about Social Security Disability, call Tracy Tyson Miller at 904.981.9812.

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