Earlier this month, The Washington Post ran a front-page story about Social Security disability benefits in rural counties, followed this past Sunday by an editorial calling for a wholesale restructuring of Social Security Disability Insurance. Several SSDI experts, including our colleague Rebecca Vallas, as well as Kathleen Romig of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Dean Baker of the Center on Economic Policy Research, published responses explaining what the Post missed in their reporting.
But it turns out the article’s problems go even deeper than they thought. Not only does the Post’s reporting paint a misleading picture about SSDI, but the data analysis they published is just plain wrong. The Post’s central assertion—flanked by an interactive map—was that as many as one-third of working-age adults in rural communities are living on monthly disability checks. But the data analysis supporting this argument doesn’t hold up.