It is important to be discriminating when you read about the current state of the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Even prominent and respected media outlets may opt to vocalize or publish information that is either devoid of important context or is otherwise misleading.
Lawmakers, members of the press and the public have been panicking over the state of Social Security for decades. Certainly, significant causes for concern do exist. There are numerous reasons why all Americans should be worried about the financial disconnect between the funding mechanisms for this entitlement and the number of Americans expected to need access to it in the coming years. However, not every news story televised or published on this subject is as properly presented as the next.
For example, an Op-Ed piece was recently published in the esteemed Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The authors critique the current SSD system according to data that was published in 2008. This reference does not seem significant until the reader learns that certain figures have altered dramatically in the years between 2008 and 2013. When a news story critiques the system based on outdated information, the critique’s foundation may reasonably be called into question.
Usually, readers and viewers can trust respected media outlets to report truthfully, completely and to the best of the outlets’ knowledge. However, this trust is not something that should be taken for granted. If readers are concerned about the current state of the SSD system, they should read or view stories by multiple news outlets in order to see if any inconsistencies can be detected. If they can, perhaps more research should be done before the “truth” is indeed confirmed.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Why did the WSJ use years-old data to attack Social Security disability?” Michael Hiltzik, March 9, 2015