Lawyers & the Secret Welfare State
22 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2016 Last revised: 4 Aug 2016
Date Written: January 22, 2016
Lawyers play an outsized role in the distribution of public benefits in the United States. This article suggests that, in assisting clients to circumvent stringent eligibility requirements for programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Medicaid, attorneys have created a secret welfare state that favors comparatively well-off Americans at the expense of the truly needy. Lawyers’ handling of evidence of non-disability in SSDI proceedings and participation in Medicaid planning is used to illustrate the argument.
The article concludes by analyzing whether attorneys should serve as gatekeepers of the public benefits regime.
Keywords: Social Security, SSDI, Medicaid, Medicaid Planning, Legal Ethics, Gatekeeper, Entitlements, Binder
JEL Classification: Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation