Staggering historical increases in disability in KY will prompt call for changes

10/25/2017 12:40 PM

A recent report issued earlier this month shows a staggering rise in the rate of combined disability enrollment, which up 249 percent over 35-years, with childhood enrollment growth was 449 percent.

Division of Income Support Deputy Commissioner Bryan Hubbard said the purpose of the study was to find the impact of the Social Security Disability program on the state digging into the numbers as far back as the Kentucky’s Disability Determination Services (DDS), located within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) could find the data.

Hubbard said a combination of factors led to the dramatic growth in Kentuckians receiving disability benefits, beginning with the “best of intentions in 1984” when the Social Security Act was revised.

“The ’84 revisions essentially relaxed standards so you didn’t have to meet a rigorous set of criteria to qualify for a condition, and greater emphasis was put on an individual’s self-reported limitation of function; whether that was pain or whether that was associated with some sort of psychological issue,” Hubbard said.

The second factor that led to the boom in childhood enrollment can be tied to the Supreme Court case decided in 1990 Sullivan v. Zebley which allowed youth to become eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Responding to a question from Pure Politics, Hubbard said there are individuals who do seek to game the system for their own benefit, but those are not the people who are responsible for the “problem that we have.”

“Policymakers on high who decided to revise and utilize Social Security Administration protocols to purposefully expand the entry portals are responsible for this issue,” he said. “When it comes to our childhood population that has to be laid squarely at the feet of the Social Security Administration.”

“The Social Security Disability program has been misused and abused to address issues that are not necessarily related to medical disability that would preclude somebody from holding a productive job.”

Hubbards and that Kentucky is seeking a waiver from the federal government to allow a pilot reform program in an effort to insure the disability system perform as it is intended. Hubbard details the action needed beginning at 10:20 in the interview below.


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