"What we need to do is have a discussion," he said. "This is a great example. The Social Security/Disability system, we need to fix it. Nobody wants to fix it. Nobody wants to fix the fraud in Medicare. We have a new program coming out, the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare, and there's no income verification at all. So we know that's going to get defrauded to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, so why would we continue to do the same thing that put us in trouble that we're in?"
Coburn, who is a doctor, has been reviewing the insurance disability system for the past two years. He claims one in four cases adjudicated by the system are improperly handled.
"What we found was collusion and most likely fraud and extortion in this particular office, as well as terrible management by Social Security itself in terms of its own rules and its own guidelines. The other thing we found is that the people inside the Social Security Office, not the judges, but the people actually making determinations do a pretty good job, but then it's totally ignored by the (administrative law judges) and the trial bar when, in fact, they try to go secure somebody's disability when, in fact, that are not disabled."
Watch the "60 Minutes" report below.
Coburn said the judge assessed by his team assigned more than $5 billion worth of claims just in the last four or five years. And while it is unknown the number of claims that are legitimate or not, Coburn said, "what we do know is this judge, it appears, didn't actually look at the cases, just decided them on the record without hearing the testimony from either the attorney, the individual, or Social Security or reading actually the full file on the individual's claim."
The average monthly benefit is $1,129, according to the Social Security Administration.
The problem with the system is "acute," Coburn said. "(In) probably less than 18 months, the Social Security and Disability System will run out of money and that means people who are truly disabled are going to take a serious cut in the disability payments that they get today. ... One is continuing disability review, which the Social Security system has failed at. They send you a postcard and ask are you continuously disabled and of course anybody that's getting a good-sized check is going to say 'yes' rather than 'no,' so there's no real organized effort to take people off of disability once their injury has resolved."
Turning to the government shutdown, Coburn said "nobody's talking" and sought to dispel what he said is a rumor going around in the media. "The debt ceiling and the (continuing resolution) are the same thing. There is no such thing as a debt ceiling in this country because it's never been not increased, and that's why we're $17 trillion in debt and I would dispel the rumor that is going around that you hear on every newscast that we'll default. We won't. We'll continue to pay our interest and continue to redeem bonds and we'll issue new bonds to replace those. So it's not entirely accurate. What we need to do is have a discussion."
For more with Coburn, watch his full "CTM" interview above.