Disability Rights Advocates Accuse Washington Post Of Perpetuating ‘Myths’ About Benefits

Disability rights advocates and a leading Democratic think tank are livid at The Washington Post over a March 30 front-page story on the prevalence of disability benefits in rural America.

The newspaper claimed that “as many as one-third of working-age adults” in rural communities receive disability benefits. But as the Center for American Progress calculated ― and The Huffington Post confirmed by looking at the raw data ― that proportion holds true in only one county in the entire country.

Republicans often use stories like the Post’s to argue that the disability rolls have grown due to abuse from people who can work but simply do not want to. For example, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) complained in January 2015 that people were “gaming the system” to receive disability benefits. In fact, the Social Security Administration’s inspector general has estimated that the Social Security Disability Insurance program has a fraud rate below 1 percent. 

“They are perpetuating the same myths that have been debunked over and over again without regard for how misleading reporting can affect people with disabilities already living on the financial edge,” said Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Center for American Progress’ Poverty to Prosperity program.

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