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Reminder: people on disability insurance wish they didn’t have to be

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Dispelling the myth that people on disability are freeloading.

There’s a pervasive myth that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is easily abused. Former Sen. Tom Coburn has referred to the program as “the Social Security Disability Trust Fund,” and current Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says things like, “Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts,” which is patently false. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s current budget director, has even bragged that he tricked Trump into making cuts to the program by misleading him about what it was.

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The reality, of course, is that the program is an important safety net for people who are too young to retire but unable to work. “It’s a stingy, hard-to-access program that helps some of the country’s most desperate citizens scrape by; applying takes months or years, and more than 60 percent of applicants wind up being rejected anyway,” writes Vox’s Dylan Matthews.

Sean Rameswaram talked to Dylan for the latest episode of Today, Explained about whom SSDI helps and why the misconceptions are so dangerous.

Related reading:

  • In defense of Social Security Disability Insurance (Dylan Matthews/Vox)
  • What financing issues does SSDI face? (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
  • Trump’s hidden war on Medicaid (Dylan Scott/Vox)
  • The fuzzy claims used to justify cutting Social Security Disability Insurance (Gene B. Sperling)

How do I get even more Today, Explained?

You can get the news we’re reading throughout the day, facts and stats to make you smarter about the world, and behind-the-scenes photos on Twitter at @Today_Explained. You can follow Sean at @Rameswaram and Dylan Matthews at @DylanMatt.

How do I report a problem?

For all issues or feedback, please email todayexplained@vox.com.

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If you don’t see the player above, you can listen, subscribe, and review Today, Explained on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Google Play Music.

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