New Report Finds Hundreds of Millions in Overlapping Government Assistance Payments

Press Release

By:  Thomas Coburn
Date: Aug. 30, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found during 2010, 117,000 individuals received overlapping Social Security Disability Insurance ("SSDI") and state Unemployment Insurance ("UI") cash benefit payments totaling more than $856 million. Of those individuals receiving benefits from both programs, GAO found 1,500 individuals received more than $40,000 from both programs in just one year. The report was done at the request of Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Permanent Investigations, Carl Levin (D-MI), Subcommittee Chairman, and Committee members Tom Carper (D-DE) and Scott Brown (R-MA).

"Double-dipping government assistance undermines programs for those who are truly in need while burdening future generations with unnecessary debt. This report shows that Congress has failed to hold agencies accountable," said Dr. Coburn.

While the GAO investigation found that many individuals were receiving both payments based on applicable laws, at least a few were improper payments to fraudsters. For example, one individual qualified for disability benefits due to a back disorder, but at the same time worked construction jobs and collected UI payments in four different states over a four year period. During that four year period, this individual received $107,000 in disability and unemployment payments, despite appearing neither disabled nor unemployed.

Job data shows disability rolls are growing faster than employment. For instance, between April and June 2012, an estimated 246,000 individuals left the American work force and were added to Social Security's disability insurance program. In the same time frame, only 225,000 American jobs were created.