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Disabled child
Last week, NPR's This American Life and Planet Money featured "Unfit to Work," a story from reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, which implies that lots of people are receiving Supplemental Security who don’t deserve the help and that children, particularly, are being enrolled at alarming levels, often for questionable disabilities. The right-wing media of course picked up the story and ran with it. Policy wonks furthered it and called for reform. That left Media Matters and economists and disability experts like Dean Baker,  Shawn Fremstad and Harold Pollack to clean up the misinformation.

Pollack has perhaps the best rebuttal in his blog post and interview at WonkBlog (credit to them for following up their interview with the story's reporter with an informed rebuttal). Some of his primary points:

  • "Despite the ministrations of what Joffe-Walt labels the “disability industrial complex,” the majority of disability applicants are actually denied. SSI and SSDI are not boondoggles." The CBPP analyzed Social Security records and determined that out of 1,000 applications for disability, 410 are allowed, more than one-third of those after appeals.
  • Jaffe-Walt presented two graphs to show that disability insurance has become the new welfare, one showing a decrease in the number of families with children receiving temporary assistance and the other showing an increase in the number of low-income adults generally receiving Supplemental Security, suggesting that it was the same population moving from one to the other. But those "graphs just don’t go together. They cover different populations, whose dynamics are influenced by different processes."
  • “Child SSI caseloads are not exploding. Nor are large numbers of single moms transitioning from traditional welfare (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF) to SSI. [...] Rising poverty rates, not lax program rules, is the critical factor. [...] [T]he rise in the child SSI caseloads is dwarfed by the decline in the number of children receiving cash assistance after the 1996 welfare reform."

There's a huge piece missing out of Jaffe-Walt's story as well, that she misses right here, when she's talking about laid-off mill-workers: "I talked to a bunch of mill guys who took this [disability] path—one who shattered the bones in his ankle and leg, one with diabetes, another with a heart attack. When the mill shut down, they all went on disability."

Heart disease, diabetes and a shattered ankle. In the real world, those are called pre-existing conditions. In the real world, the only jobs available to these men are low-wage jobs that don't provide health insurance. Heart disease and diabetes are conditions that require regular trips to the doctor, prescriptions and medical expenses. The cheaper alternative for them, and for a nation with a broken health care system, is to have them receiving $13,000 a year in disability income and regular medical care. Another piece missing from the story is the large population of disability recipients there because of mental impairments and mental illness. Where once they'd have been institutionalized, either in hospitals or prisons, they're now living on their own with the help of disability payments; again, a cheaper alternative for government than housing them.

What the story did that was of service was to put a focus on a dysfunctional economy that has no place in the workforce because they are too old, too sick or otherwise “obsolete.” That should have been the story Jaffe-Walt told, instead of an alarmist, incomplete and mythical picture of another "entitlement" gone out of control.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (140+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RerumCognoscereCausas, Sylv, Horace Boothroyd III, Polly Syllabic, irishwitch, Odysseus, hannah, annieli, mrkvica, bfitzinAR, karmsy, marina, Eddie L, Neon Vincent, maryabein, DaNang65, MsSpentyouth, Bob B, HappyinNM, Egalitare, zaka1, antirove, joedemocrat, jrooth, sobermom, TheCenturyFoundation, KateCrashes, gizmo59, anodnhajo, peptabysmal, Chaddiwicker, tytalus, Friendlystranger, cyncynical, roses, NoMoreLies, sjburnman, WiseFerret, JayRaye, niterobin, quill, elfling, Assaf, rapala, fb, emeraldmaiden, geordie, barbtries, Chinton, peachcreek, Simplify, countwebb, tardis10, AgavePup, monkeybrainpolitics, BlueMississippi, slowbutsure, Dreaming of Better Days, commonmass, Involuntary Exile, jan4insight, second gen, slapshoe, SteelerGrrl, Carol in San Antonio, Ahianne, profh, shenderson, Bluesee, sagansong, petulans, shaharazade, Hastur, LibChicAZ, HawkWife, eeff, alice kleeman, StateofEuphoria, jazzmaniac, sfgb, WakeUpNeo, peregrine kate, TiaRachel, a gilas girl, Texnance, Papuska, myboo, yoduuuh do or do not, Tommye, shanesnana, brae70, Nattiq, The Lone Apple, snazzzybird, ichibon, post rational, Dr Arcadia, ItsSimpleSimon, askyron, Kimbeaux, northerntier, wintergreen8694, OhioNatureMom, NogodsnomastersMary, Over the Edge, Tamar, historys mysteries, eps62, lirtydies, Sprinkles, Lily O Lady, third Party please, m00finsan, dotdash2u, mrblubitz, Capt Crunch, FloridaSNMOM, AZGoob, Homer177, Byron from Denver, blukat, stvnjon, kjoftherock, I love OCD, tegrat, TomP, ramara, SkylarkingTomFoolery, Ice Blue, Mike08, PeterHug, nomandates, Eric Nelson, forrest, whaddaya, saluda, kaliope, Words In Action, geez53, rosabw

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:28:17 PM PDT

  •  Several news sources... (45+ / 0-)

    ...did approach this story more fairly.  The Atlantic pointed out that the bigger problem is not "parasitism," but that we are living in an economy where government-guaranteed poverty is a better choice than most of the jobs available to many workers.  

    •  There are a lot of perverse incentives, too. (43+ / 0-)

      Hardly Working

      Jackson’s SSI approval came in fall 2009. The gross payment for back benefits since the date he first applied was nearly $16,000, but he received less than half of it; his lawyer took nearly $4,000 and Jackson repaid the state about $4,800 in TDAP, the $185-per-month state benefit. “People don’t realize, that’s a loan,” he says during a spring 2010 interview. “They snatch it back.”

      Jackson still had more than $7,000 coming in two $3,000-plus installments. That was a problem, he explained, because SSI rules don’t allow recipients to have more than $2,000.

      “The fear that I have is this: I just got my lump sum,” Jackson said during that first interview a year ago. “I just got $3,074 and $674 the first of this month. But I can’t keep the money in the bank beyond a certain amount of time. If I don’t spend it, I could lose it. It can only stay like that a year because of what I got coming in.”

      Frugality is explicitly not a virtue in this situation.  Having any kind of a cushion disqualifies you.

      Oh, and by the way - these timelines are a scandal, they are so ridiculous.  Even 90 days should be cause for raising hell.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:47:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dead on comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cardinal, historys mysteries, tb mare
      The Atlantic pointed out that the bigger problem is not "parasitism," but that we are living in an economy where government-guaranteed poverty is a better choice than most of the jobs available to many workers.  
      I have no doubt that there are a lot of people milking the disability system. None whatsoever.  I have a family member who was urged to apply for permanent disability when she wanted to work because the spread between disability and her proposed job was not that great and as the aid worker stated, "you can't get laid off from permanent disability".  She was horrified, at first, but then made the right choice for herself.  

      Suffice it to say, she took the job, and retained her dignity.  She had the family safety net she needed to safely make that choice.  We have too many people in this country who don't.

      Not everyone is part of a Gestalt - Owsley Stanley

      by SpamNunn on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:28:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Define "milking" (22+ / 0-)

        I, too, have a family member who if she did not have family support would not be able to live in any way independently without disability. Works intermittently, somehow manages to make medical insurance payments (I suspect with family assistance.)

        Using the term "dignity" betrays biases.

        I am a physician who has worked in several situations where I have had to complete federal disability paperwork. Here's one of the big problems: the system presumes that if you can work, you can a) get a job and b) that job will provide either health insurance benefits or will pay you enough to buy insurance. Neither of these situations is true for the vast majority of people who find themselves in this situation.

        There are people who are fully functional when they are able to get access to health care, and at that time they almost certainly can work, and many of those I have seen in this position would choose to do so. But the jobs they could get would not allow them to get their healthcare and then they fall back into an inability to function reasonably and reliably for a job.

        It is a serious Catch-22 and a major problem in the system.

        Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

        by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:07:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This! (6+ / 0-)

          A thousand times This! This is the problem. People want to work, many can even get a job, but that job does not allow them the benefit of having or accessing in an efficient or cost effective manner any healthcare or childcare.

        •  An SSDI story (7+ / 0-)

          After I could no longer work professionally, I worked a number of years in low-paying, entry-level jobs without benefits. Eventually I was unable to do even that. When I finally decided to apply for SSDI and it was granted, I had been unable to work for so long that my Medicare began almost immediately (it takes 2 years for this to happen, 6 months until eligibility for SSDI and 18 months after that). I won't ask for the logic of saying a person is too disabled to work and making them wait so long for health coverage.

          But I do know that this idea of milking the system is offensive and untrue for me and for almost everyone I know on disability. For those of us who become underemployed before admitting that we can't support ourselves, it is beyond insulting.

          Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

          by ramara on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:57:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Taking disability when you are able to work. (0+ / 0-)

          I know several people who are on long term psych disability who tell me that they don't take any medication and, to all appearances, could work.   They joke about it, lead very leisurely lives and tell me that they prefer disability to working, even though their life style is pretty spartan.  

          I am sure there are lots out there just like them.  

          That being said, they are all a little "off", personality wise, and might have problems in jobs that required a lot of client contact.  

          Not everyone is part of a Gestalt - Owsley Stanley

          by SpamNunn on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:16:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You do realize that is the disability equivalent (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            whaddaya, peptabysmal, kaliope

            of the "welfare queen," right?

            Sure there are cases like that, but they get more press than the actual extent of their ilk in the system.

            Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

            by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 03:35:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I know people who are on disability (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            whaddaya, kaliope

            and their problems are psychological in nature (depression and bipolar mostly).  They would like to work, but know that they may wind up not getting hired at all, or in a workplace that could trigger their issues and make them worse.

            Not taking that into account makes you look like a jerk.  I am disabled, and I personally have enough of a time trying to convince people of that (including my own therapist-!), let alone find myself a job where I know my talents would shine.  People like you aren't helping when you don't recognize those of us with "invisible" disabilities have our own set of problems that might make working difficult.

        •  Not for that person. (0+ / 0-)
          Using the term "dignity" betrays biases.
          She said she would have "lost her dignity" (her words, not mine) if she had taken the disability route.  

          Not everyone is part of a Gestalt - Owsley Stanley

          by SpamNunn on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:18:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  interpretations - but the state's are complicit... (0+ / 0-)

      I heard the story (and hope others listen to it for themselves)...  much interpretation comes from the listener's bias.  Conservs are gonna hear what they want -- that's what makes them conservs -- but the left can be better.  Much of what she pointed out was that we've created this system where everyone acting in a locally optimal fashion ends up with very unwanted global (Federal) result.

      What was interesting was how she kept pealing back the layers to torpedo your prior assumptions.

      A very big point was the conference where the state employee admitted that the state agencies were focusing on moving people off state welfare on to Fed disability.  You can well imagine it is another way many red states practice their paradoxical anti fed and taxes rants while extolling their ability to balance their budgets.

      The main point is that the story has done a huge service to getting the discussion out there.

      "Post-hoc ergo proctor hoc" a logical fallacy, but to conservatives a philosophy

      by learn on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:00:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Again, the bottom line is that nobody can (27+ / 0-)

    eat, drink or shelter under dollars. Dollars are a token, which enables persons with a surplus to share that surplus and get something from someone else in return.

    The people who developed economic theory seem to have been people who were non-productive themselves and convinced that their "demand" is the social trigger necessary to make producers produce. Willard still sees himself in that light and refers to himself as a "giver" because he gives orders that other people "take."

    See, the fact that there is a difference between intent and action is really important. But, some people can't see it. In their minds, their intent to have someone else work is what produces the work. I suspect they don't get how symbols work, either. So, they are quite certain that dollars are valuable and accumulating them is a grand achievement for which they deserve great praise.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:41:16 PM PDT

    •  Perfect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      historys mysteries

      Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world--and never will. Mark Twain

      by whoknu on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:40:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I might add, there is something to supply side (5+ / 0-)

        economics. Except, the supply siders were focused on increasing the supply by demanding more. Then when the supply is greater, the cost is supposed to fall. That a surplus comes first because people are creative and inventive and eager to manipulate the natural environment to replicate its processes doesn't occur to people bereft of those talents. Nor do they get that this productive activity generates a surplus, which the producer can't use up himself and that, if it doesn't get shared/traded with someone else, he'll either run out of space or have to take the stuff to the dump or stop being inventive, creative and making things. That the economy is initiated by self-directed individuals does not register with people who don't self-direct. Even their demands are reflex actions, in imitation of how people interact with them. Probably because they are observed not to be doing anything, people direct them and they, instead of following the direction, simply pass it on. "Let George do it."
        The instinct-driven imitate. That's how they learn. Eventually, after a sufficient number of repetitions (imitations of oneself), the behaviors become embedded as habits and occur almost autonomously. It's a pattern that is actually well suited to industrial production. Command and control. It does not spawn innovation. It is conservative. Habit is conservative, constant, consistent, conscienceless. "Cons" is an appropriate moniker.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:13:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Blue Collar or White Collar (37+ / 0-)
    One woman I met, Ethel Thomas, is on disability for back pain after working many years at the fish plant, and then as a nurse's aide. When I asked her what job she would have in her dream world, she told me she would be the woman at the Social Security office who weeds through disability applications. I figured she said this because she thought she'd be good at weeding out the cheaters. But that wasn't it. She said she wanted this job because it is the only job she's seen where you get to sit all day.

    At first, I found this hard to believe. But then I started looking around town. There's the McDonald's, the fish plant, the truck repair shop. I went down a list of job openings -- Occupational Therapist, McDonald's, McDonald's, Truck Driver (heavy lifting), KFC, Registered Nurse, McDonald's.

    I actually think it might be possible that Ethel could not conceive of a job that would accommodate her pain.

    There are a lot of white collar jobs which could be done.  Nobody's offering them.  This goes well beyond the "you need a college degree" idiocy.  There is real economic opportunity in finding these people and cultivating their brains and work ethic. Wingham Rowan: A New Kind of Job Market  The vision has been articulated.  Who will do the legwork to realize it?

    -7.75 -4.67

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

    There are no Christians in foxholes.

    by Odysseus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:57:18 PM PDT

  •  This is a great, helpful take (35+ / 0-)

    on this segment, thanks. I didn't see it personally. Ira Glass often does a reasonable job on social issues he attempts to tackle on his program, but I guess it was pretty flawed in this case.

    People-are-so-lazy-they-take-advantage-of-SSI is a RW meme we must demolish, swiftly and ruthlessly, wherever it crops up.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 01:57:31 PM PDT

    •  If you didn't hear it (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deward Hastings, Ender, hmi, itsbenj

      Don't assume it was such a hatchet job. It wasn't.

      •  It wasn't, I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy, whaddaya

        but while I recognize that there was a criticism of the system that puts people into this situation, some of the outrage in the reporter's voice seemed to come from people who she thought/implied should not be on disability.

        Therein lies part of the problem.

        Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

        by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:09:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, quite honestly (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy, Critical Dune

          There were some people in the report who probably shouldn't have been on disability. They were there because they had fallen through the cracks and this was all they could do. The woman who admitted she could do office work for example, but there was no such job available for her. She shouldn't be on disability, she should either have a job she can handle or be on another assistance program. Likewise with folks who might be able to work but were afraid to try for fear of being kicked off and unable to get back on if they couldn't handle the work.
          I never got the impression that the reporter was blaming the folks on disability, just that the system was in need of serious reform.

        •  I reserve my outrage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for the many hundreds of Long Island Railroad employees who have for years committed wholesale disability fraud. Fortunately, this sort of thing is confined to Long Island (and of course for our vast numbers of disabled NYC cops and firemen) — but the federal system is surely pure as Caesar's wife. Possibly even purer.

    •  I've only heard a few "This American Life" shows (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lirtydies, karmsy, whaddaya

      (when it was a radio show) and I liked them. But even good people in the media get things wrong. I love Rachel Maddow but a couple of times she's been off on something I'm pretty expert at (interpretations of survey results) -- I emailed the show but never got a response.
      In the case of Ira Glass, I was listening to a show that was about a woman who had been adopted as a young child and eventually, when she's an adult, meets her birth mother. I couldn't listen after the first few minutes because he kept referring to her birth mother as her "real" mother.
      Sorry sir, but the real mother is the one who raises you, who actually mothers you. And in this day and age, most people know that.
      He just got it wrong. over and over again. And it was clear to me he didn't discuss the topic with anyone. (BTW, he was the one using the term "real," not the woman whose story he was telling).
      It may seem like a small thing, but since it was the center of the story, it needed to be right. Reporters often have a shallow understanding of the topic they're covering.

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:45:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ira isn't perfect, for sure. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tb mare, whaddaya, Tamar

        What you're describing, would have offended me, too, and he's made other gaffes. During the course of one show once, he made an aside comment that struck me as quite overtly racist. I never took action, although it came out at me. I hope he got feedback from other listeners.

        The best of us occasionally slip up. All we can hope for, is the wisdom to be fully accountable for our mistakes (and, of course, the wisdom not to make more than our share of them).

        It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

        by karmsy on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:42:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  people so lazy they take advantage of SSI (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is true.

      but they are hardly in the majority.

      the lie the RW, and now, disappointingly TAL, tell is that it's most or some large percentage of the people are taking advantage of the system.

      I can live with the ineffciency of false claims to help the people that really need it.  and, BTW, if the agencies responsible are properly staffed, well then they'll be able to grant access to only qualified applicants, right ?

      big badda boom : GRB 090423

      by squarewheel on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 11:32:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ironically I shattered a bone in 2000 and (43+ / 0-)

    they botched the surgery after a bull shattered my humerus, shoulder blade and both tuberosities, requiring surgery and the insertion of appliances to hold things together.  Nerve damage to the nerve bundle in my shoulder caused chronic acute pain which exacerbated my hypertension.

    I continued to work as I had more and more problems with my back and hip from old injuries such as a 3 story fall.  I developed gout in both feet, hindering ambulation but I continued to work.

    I developed diabetes while my ability to even get in and out of bed became more restricted.  I suffered from narcolepsy which prevented me from driving in most situations.  I applied for SSDI and was turned down.

    My back and hip became worse as my joints began malfunctioning due to arthritis.  I appealed and was rejected.  By this time I am on 12 meds and finally get a lawyer.  In 2011, I was finally approved, backdated to 2007.  For those 4 years I lived on savings and credit.

    Diabetes alone will not qualify you for SSDI nor will a single broken bone nor will an MI automatically qualify you and neither will hypertension or obesity.  Basically, you must have a condition which has prevented you from working for 6 months previously and which will prevent you from working for the foreseeable future.  This condition or conditions must not be correctable by prosthesis, appliance or medication and it must render you unfit to work for any position which you may qualify for.  This makes it easier for lesser educated workers to qualify while educated workers face the most hurdles or as i was told "You should be able to work if you are only a talking head"    

    •  I did SSD and SSI casework (23+ / 0-)

      for Wyden when I worked for him way back when. And I've had friends and family have to apply and reapply for SSD. So I've seen first hand how hard it is to get. I hope you had someone to advocate for you through it.

      "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

      by Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:14:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I did most of the work myself and did all the (7+ / 0-)

        filing and birddogging myself.  My attorney showed up for the hearing after his partner who had been handling the case could not show and represented me before the ALJ. He charged $6000

        •  do you still (0+ / 0-)

          have to pay a fee to the attorney?

          I had not heard it before but the TAL article suggested there are some lawyers who get an ongoing percentage.

          Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

          by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:11:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As far as I know, it is usually... (0+ / 0-)

            ...a one time payment and about 1/3 of the back pay due to the applicant.

            •  I believe SS must approve the fee. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              When I went through the system I was denied and eventually had to hire an attorney. According to the Social Security "Blue Book" my case should have been immediately approved, but none the less it was repeatedly denied. After about a year and a half an ALJ approved my claim without me or my lawyer making an appearance. Based solely on my file, the law and the documentation of my conditions he lambasted the adjudicators in his opinion and gave me several years retro-active. My attorney got the maximum fee Social Security allowed at the time which was $7500. Social Security must approve the attorney's fees, there is a cap and you can contest the fee. Or at least that's the way it was 5 years ago. It was an easy $7500 for the lawyer since I did all the paperwork and they came in only after I was denied. They didn't even have to go to court. I see no reason why the system makes it almost a necessity in almost every case that an applicant retain an attorney to fight for their benefits.

              I am now fighting the VA for service connected disability and the claim is over 4 years old (an Agent Orange claim which should be a slam dunk approval according to VA regulations, policy and current law). I may end up having to retain a lawyer to fight the VA if I'm denied or the disability rating is too low. I am totally unable to work in any capacity.

              The bottom line is, getting SSDI, VA service connected disability or SSI is a very long and costly and wearisome process. All during your wait time you are being sent to incompetent doctors unfamiliar with your health conditions and you cannot work since if you do any work for pay you cannot be considered disabled. Someone should do a report on how many people die while awaiting approval for benefits.

          •  he took the $6000 as payment in full (0+ / 0-)

            for his 15 minutes of work as he had not read the file before we walked into court and had to read the file on the fly

    •  talking head heh (8+ / 0-)

      i'm a school social worker. I have mentioned I have a bad arm from cancer srugery, plus arthritis all over. i was expected to chase emotionally disturbed kids down the street when they bolted; often they tried to get out of the class and i was expected to hold the door shut; they often went for my bad arm. so much for being a talking head. i finally told the principal that i won't do these things, either do it yourself or call the cops. i am in no position to restrain a violent middle schooler.Maybe, i suggested, she and the the teacher could be a little less confrontational with the kids? they are, after all, emotionally disturbed.....

      •  Similar situation (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leftangler, AZGoob, tb mare

        I can't go into detail but I have a patient who has deficits after surgery (not a complication, but an effect of the original problem) and a job that puts this person into certain situations where that deficit is a risk. There is no compensatory adjustment in the job responsibilities available. Yet the person does not want to go on disability because it would mean a serious loss of income, and any other job for which this person could qualify would also mean a loss of income and likely loss of health benefits which are required.

        Rock, meet hard place.

        Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

        by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:15:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read the Planet Money article (34+ / 0-)

    and saw lots of right wing causes and left wing solutions. Wages are too low, manufacturing jobs have been leaving the country (how many times have liberals tried to end the tax incentives for shipping jobs overseas and replace them with tax incentives to manufacture in the US?), and we have no universal healthcare. If minimum wage were at least $10 per hour (like Canada), and we had universal health care (like Canada), work would be a viable, and much more attractive option to those on welfare or disability. We'd have fewer people depending on government, and the government(s) would have a lot more tax revenue from the increased payroll taxes and consumer spending.

    "It is easier to fool people, than to convince them they've been fooled" - Mark Twain

    by Sarge in Seattle on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:12:23 PM PDT

  •  It's surprising to me that only 1/3 of those (7+ / 0-)

    receiving disability benefits got them after an appeal. I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who's gotten approved on the first try. (I used to work at the welfare office, so I've spoken with lots of recipients).

    •  I worked for SSA Hearings and Appeals (15+ / 0-)

      When I started working for the government, and I saw case files several inches thick where the claimant had filed over and over again for benefits.

      At that time (late 1970s) over three fourths of the decisions I typed up were denial of benefits. These people would come in for hearings barely able to move or with a portable oxygen cart trailing behind them.

      Then Reagan became president, and decided that some beneficiaries weren't entitled to benefits, and took them away. Our case load tripled (the waiting period for a hearing was about 120 days when I started) and of course those who were waiting had to wait even longer.

      That was when our judges started receiving death threats. One lunch hour I came back to work on the reception desk after I ate and there was an armed Federal Protective Service member standing guard by the door.

      I started looking for a Federal job with less public contact the next day...

    •  What's really bizarre is that I did (16+ / 0-)

      receive disability on the first application. Of course, I am on dialysis and SSD is almost - almost - guaranteed. At the time of application I wasn't at all concerned with SSD and told anyone who would listen that I did not expect to get it and I was more worried about getting Medicare in place. It was the shock of my life when I got the approval letter.

      My father, on the other hand... first it was dialysis, then transplant. He had his transplant back in 1985, when large doses of Prednisone were the norm. He developed avascular necrosis in every joint as a result.

      Two hip replacements, two knee replacements, two shoulder replacements, two glaucoma surgeries and 17 years of SSD appeals and they still considered him fit to work. Seventeen years.

      When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. - Mark Twain

      by Late Again on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:29:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  First try (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Naniboujou, dotdash2u

      got it.   I suspect the voluminous list of Doctors and hospitals, together with the fact that my problem is near-blind visual impairment expedited that result.

      Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

      by ActivistGuy on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:23:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are some things (0+ / 0-)

        that will generally get nearly automatic approval, including diabetes, AIDS (not HIV), and loss of a limb or sight. Not sure if loss of hearing will do it.

        Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

        by stitchmd on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:23:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Happy, I am one of the rare few I think. That (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dotdash2u, Chaddiwicker

      said, I was born with cerebral palsy mostly affecting my lower extremities.  Despite that I attended college and worked in an insurance company for several years.  After losing my job in 2000 due to a merger, I spent nearly two years searching unsuccessfully for a replacement.  The physical strain of the job search combined with age caused my condition to deteriorate and I elected to apply for SSDI (permanent disability.)  

      Fortunately, I had a relative in the medical field to help me navigate the process and I didn't need to hire and attorney.  There were a series of physical exams and interviews that were not always pleasant.  The worst part was locating the medical records going back more than twenty years to document the progression of my limitations.  Many of the doctors who managed my treatment were either retired or had passed away.  

      I realize that my story is exceptional, but my physical limitations are also fairly easy to determine and lifelong.

    •  Im one of them. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It took effort to collect hospital and medical records.  I was lucky to be functional during the process.  The hardest part was the admission that nothing I'd done, over 42 years, had resolved the fundamental problems and that all data indicated to employers that I was not a good choice.  I got too old and arthritic to clean houses, my backup for much of my life.  

      I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

      by I love OCD on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:17:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just shake my (29+ / 0-)

    head at all the attacks on people, if it isn't the poor, then it is the disabled, or it is the middle class.  The constant attacks on the least among us are easy.  If you can't retire and you see others getting social security who are disabled, then you will begin to resent the disabled and begin to question whether they "look," like they deserve to be on disability.  It is the new judgment, because as you get close to retirement you also have aches and pains, but now you can't retire because someone (with a real disability) is taking that away from you. . . it is the game being played.  But, sadly, if you are actually disabled and have problems no one will hire you, and if they do they get pissed off by your symptoms and fire you anyway.  

    We live in a capitalism clusterf&%k and no matter how hard you try or if you follow all the rules eventually they will find a way to screw you over.

    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolution­ary act. " George Orwell

    by zaka1 on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:24:53 PM PDT

  •  I heard part of this report. (20+ / 0-)

    Didn't hear any people who went through the process of applying for disability interviewed. The reporter made it seem like it was easy. Even bemoaned the fact that there was no one on the state's side arguing against someone getting disability. In my case, which I eventually won, the judges were NOT neutral parties. The two I went in front of were both VERY tough and adversarial. In my opinion, the report was very one sided.

  •  I heard the program last weekend (15+ / 0-)

    and I thought it was great.  

    Chana Joffe-Walt took an extermely complex issue and tried to look at it from many different angles.  If it had to be narrowed down to one sound-bite, I think  Joffe-Walt would have said,

    It's about living-wage jobs, Stupid.
    You realy need to listen to the whole thing.  It is not surprising that the right-wing repeated only what they wanted people to hear.  It is a little disappointing to think the left was suckered into it.

    "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

    by Naniboujou on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:34:09 PM PDT

    •  I agree... (9+ / 0-)

      I didn't hear this at all:

      implies that lots of people are receiving Supplemental Security who don’t deserve the help
      Quite the contrary... I heard about the desparate situation of people who can't work, because they can't do something as basic as "stand all day" - their bodies aren't up to it.

      All I took away was "thank god for SSDI"... or these people would really be screwed. As for how to solve this? that's a whole other issue, and a complex at that.

      Freedom isn't free. So quit whining and pay your taxes.

      by walk2live on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 02:57:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I listened to it as well (12+ / 0-)

      I came away from it with the idea that disability is being used by the states to move people off of welfare, that it's being abused as a loophole.

      It was also about folks who can't find work because of how inadequate our education system can be, folks who are on disability because they can't find a job where they can so much as sit down. Been there. But TAL and Planet Money are rightly lambasted for what they got wrong and for giving the right wing ammunition.

      We demanded a plan to reduce gun violence. Now it's time to demand a vote.

      by tytalus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:10:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just shook my head abt the states hiring (6+ / 0-)

        companies that specialize in moving people from welfare to disability.

        That's what stood out to me most when I listened to this last weekend, and I think that is the part that media outlets should focus on. But of course the rightwingers can't pass up an opportunity to cherry-pick ammo to level at disadvantaged and disabled people. The assholes.

        These GOP legislatures pass the buck back to the federal level and then rail against federal spending.

        Just another feature of their racket.

        "This is a center-left country. Democrats can act that way and win. In fact, they must." -- Markos

        by cassandraX on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:42:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doubt it's only the GOP (0+ / 0-)

          It's an incentives problem for the Feds to pay all disability claims.

          For the state government, it keeps those people off welfare and unemployment, and guarantees a slow trickle of federal dollars into the state.

          It's also slightly redistributive considering that federal taxes that cover disability are more progressive than state taxes that cover state welfare programs.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:01:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  This (5+ / 0-)

      I agree, I think this diary is missing some of her key points. It seems like the diarist didn't listen to the whole piece.

      •  gotta agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dotdot, Naniboujou

        the whole end section about what was 'missing' from the piece was all stuff that was in the original, all with proper emphasis, not at all done as a cheap shot or blaming the people stuck in the system. they spent a lot of time elaborating on how people have been screwed over when the factories which propped up the local economies closed down, leaving little variety of employment in any given area. the piece spent a large amount of time on all of this, as well as detailes about how states are purging their welfare roles by channeling people into disability so the Feds pick up the tab. I have to wonder if the piece was listened to at all...

        Shout golden shouts!

        by itsbenj on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 01:39:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The bit about child SSI was important (4+ / 0-)

      The dilemna that parents faced with special needs children was that they were unable to work, the income they got for their child was critical to keeping their family going, and for children who were borderline there was the very real danger that if their performance and grades improved, they'd lose their benefits.

      One mother they interviewed was very worried about that.  She said of course she wanted her son to do well in school (especially since he was so enthusiastic about it) but what would happen if he caught up and they took the money away?  What if he fell behind again?  How would she maintain his progress?

      The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

      by catwho on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:14:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  when SSDI was created, there was an age limit (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpamNunn, Sparhawk, Naniboujou

        I can't remember if it was 50 or 55, but the SSA web site has a good history section on this and other programs.  It was meant to be a program for workers who could no longer work.

        It has obviously morphed into something different since the 1970's.  You can argue that the population of current enrollees are all needy and deserving of assistance, but to attack this NPR program for illuminating the ways in which the concept and definition of "disability" have changed and contributed to the growth in numbers of enrollees is unfair.

        Disability enrollment has always, from the program's inception, tracked recessionary cycles in the economy.

        If anything, given how the workplace has evolved in America in a post industrial era...shifting away from heavy, physical labor, coupled with advancements in medical would expect disability rates to gradually decline.

        That they have not done so suggests something else is afoot.  It is most likely the "squeezing the balloon effect" where one program's eligibility requirements are tightened (TANF and traditional welfare programs) while others are loosened (SSDI).

        Clinton's whole "Welfare to Work" program was largely a game of Three Card Monty.

        _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

        by Keith930 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:27:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The main point: WTF else can these people do? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Naniboujou, eps62, itsbenj, dotdot, Ramoth

      That and $13,000 a year? Are you supposed to live on that?

      I thought that the program did a service by pointing out how bad our social safety net is.

    •  Ditto...I'm wondering if I listened to the same (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itsbenj, dotdot, kck, Naniboujou

      radio program as everyone here who is so upset. I don't think the journalist painted people receiving disability as undeserving. What I heard is a story about people in desperate situations caused by a failed economic system and defunct system of social protections. Why folks are wasting their time attacking the reporter/radio program versus the politics propagating these systems is beyond me.

  •  I heard the NPR news story and fumed! (11+ / 0-)

    It was such a classic right-wing pander, devoid of any useful carefully-gathered information, and full of mendacious spin.

    They even laughably claimed that the government is at a disadvantage in the hearings, because,..... wait for it.....

    The Social Security official is not a counsel opposing the appeals lawyer, but the JUDGE!

    Yeah, I too would like to play in a game in which I get to be the ref - and then whine for not having the chance to try and convince the ref.

    Shame on Chana Joffe-Walt and NPR.

    Thanks to the progressive blogosphere for once again trying to save the day.

    T'ed, R'ed and emailed to my wife :)

  •  Something else to keep in mind (20+ / 0-)
    "I talked to a bunch of mill guys who took this [disability] path—one who shattered the bones in his ankle and leg, one with diabetes, another with a heart attack. When the mill shut down, they all went on disability."
    When you have a job already and you have a condition like that (especially when it was caused BY the job) there are some regulations that require the employer to accommodate you; in addition, the employer already has you trained and knows your skills and work ethic.

    But, getting a new job when you are substantially impaired is a completely different story. There are just too many other applicants to choose from in most cases.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:04:42 PM PDT

    •  I do think that was exactly what she was (8+ / 0-)

      trying to convey.  

      As she stated (not in these words), is that just reporting that "another factory shut down today" is the easy part of any "factory-shut-down" story.  The hard part of the story is then reporting about the aftermath;  the reality of what it means for those workers who are in less-than-perfect health.  For them, this is probably the end of their working career, whether they want it to be or not.  Going on disability becomes the only viable option open to them in this sucky economy.

      "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

      by Naniboujou on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:24:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am someone who is now on disablitiy (7+ / 0-)

    I can honestly say that without the recession I probably would not have ever applied but not for the reason most people list. My reason; stress. I have a disease where stress makes everything worse fast. I was running a small business with my husband and all the sleepless nights trying to figure out how to keep supporting us and our employees made my condition much worse. I guesstimate it accelerated the damage to my body by 10 years.

    The filing process was not easy, it took over two years and two appeals.

    I've been on disability for a little over a year and now I'm getting audited so the stress problem is rearing it's ugly head again. The difference this time is I have a good and supportive relationship with my primary physician so hopefully I won't have any problems.

    •  This was a point that the NPR article was making (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Whatithink, Ender
      I can honestly say that without the recession I probably would not have ever applied but not for the reason most people list.
      SSDI has become a safety valve for Unemplyment Insurance, which eventually run out.  There's nothing Right Wing about admitting that.

      _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

      by Keith930 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:32:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In the real world (15+ / 0-)

    there are people working physically demanding jobs but whose years of hard work have taken a toll on their joints, lungs, nervous systems and other body parts and yet they keep on going.  For many it's what they've done all their lives; they get up and go to work, it is their life.  If their job goes away, as millions have, they are faced with the realization that most employers don't want an older, physically limited employee, they then realize they are, in fact, disabled.
    No one I know has been "given" disability benefits, I'm told that there are pretty strict criteria and a lengthy process to go through.  
    Once again we have the great American game of "find the moochers" being chronicled over the airwaves.  The cold hard fact is that thousands of people with significant physical limitations lost their jobs because their government fucked up on a massive scale and it is their right and privilege to turn to that same government for support that they are entitled to.

    •  The criteria for SSDI does indeed include (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      having worked.  One must have worked 20 of the 40 quarters of the years preceding the onset of the disability with the onset date determined by the SSA.  So that's pretty much 5 years of work out of the 10 years before disability.  If you haven't done that you may qualify for SSI instead but with SSI you must have no assets- no more than $2,000 in the bank at any one time. That's our safety net for disabled adults and it is by no means a wide net.

  •  Worst part about disability (13+ / 0-)

    is that the truly disabled are often too disabled to apply or possibly not competent enough to even know it's available.  I'm betting that for each person who receives it there's at least 3 or 4 others out there who desperately need it and would qualify if the system were designed better.

    Republican threats amount to destroying the present if we don't allow them to destroy the future too. -MinistryOfTruth, 1/1/2013

    by sleipner on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:47:50 PM PDT

  •  i heard the TAL podcast (8+ / 0-)

    and had a completely different takeway.

    the reporting was compassionate and bemused at the folly inherent in the whole sorry state of things, not tilted in any rightwing way.

    what blows my mind is that the areas talked about are all red voters, yet they don't want big government, even when it's their only hope of survival.

    seems like hush money to me, in the sense of 'take the $ and stfu'.

    no dignity.

    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 03:54:39 PM PDT

  •  Don't hate the player-hate the game.Divide-conquer (6+ / 0-)

    strategy at play.

    Terminated at 55 yrs old.

    Sadly it is the only option some of us have at this point. The job market is bad enough at that age, unskilled, and dont have a lifelong disability, it is almost impossible to survive if you do. My claim was accepted immediately.

    Speaking as a person who has to depend on this for several years, (had physically demanding job, 1st Work comp claim ever-was pretext, lost job). Employer suddenly refused to conform to the ADA accommodations I requested per my MD, after years of  co-operation w/the request. Suddenly they 'dont have any records of this'. Never got it on paper :(, my misplaced trust, common trait for ASD folk.  

    My naivete and ignorance of work comp issues as well(unknowingly seeing company dr's, didn't get an attorney until after 2 months etc)..  Devastated, unable to work, always got good review-worked my a55 off- until my employer decided to purge the workplace of.. It only became apparent how they were able to do this, when several others similarly affected compared notes. It was all 'legal' but barely. I was unaware of the percs and bonuses management gets for keeping WC claims $ down.

    Wishing it wasn't necessary to have to defend against this bullshit. The sad part is, a lot of the ones that scream the loudest have someone in their family who relies on these same 'gubmint' benefits.

    We ignore dehumanization of any segment of our society at our peril.

    Oh and BTW if there is a private disability 'insurance' company who you have received benefits from during the interim, they can legally claim repayment when you do get your 'settlement'.  

    •  Without the player there is no game (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of course you hate the players.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:19:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   True-most 'players' unaware they're being played (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in the first place. willfully, or otherwise ignorant of what is happening around them. Unaware of the consequences that will befall them and their families future if the plans of the conservatives in power now are allowed to continue-unabated. Divide and conquer, that is the game, and it is is rigged by the few.

        Educating those that fancy themselves as 'players', you know, the ones who are so concerned w/their 'freedoms' ( from HC, ignoring climate issues, privatizing everything, eliminating regulation etc..)  in a timely manner and no money is crucial.

        Progressives efforts to rebut the onslaught of disinformation disguised as news is frustrating when the ones doing the 'gaming' continuously pander to the  obtuse, stubborn, and the hate. With an unending supply of $$$.

        Sorry about the players, I still hate the game.

  •  I have some info in this, apparently some (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zaka1, Chaddiwicker

    people get a pass, others are grilled, charred to the bone. I do think education level is a threshold, if you into college, very difficult.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:33:29 PM PDT

  •  I've got a deal for this lady (11+ / 0-)

    She can have my $13k/year SSDI, all I want is her fully-functional optic nerves.  Since she's so sure my optic nerve damage is no biggie, that I'm just some lazy parasitical slacker trying to live off her tax dollars.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:03:31 PM PDT

  •  I disagree with your assessment of the piece (10+ / 0-)
    What the story did that was of service was to put a focus on a dysfunctional economy that has no place in the workforce because they are too old, too sick or otherwise “obsolete.” That should have been the story Jaffe-Walt told, instead of an alarmist, incomplete and mythical picture of another "entitlement" gone out of control.
    She very clearly made the point that many of the people on disability don't have other options. For example, many of the people on disability have bad backs, and there are no options for sit down jobs in this economy, especially rural areas that rely heavily on manufacturing or service jobs. Jobs that can accommodate people with injuries are virtually non-existent in these areas, therefore people are unable to find suitable jobs. I think this piece did a great job highlighting how government assistance is really acting as a safety net for many people who can't find suitable work.
    Heart disease, diabetes and a shattered ankle. In the real world, those are called pre-existing conditions. In the real world, the only jobs available to these men are low-wage jobs that don't provide health insurance. Heart disease and diabetes are conditions that require regular trips to the doctor, prescriptions and medical expenses. The cheaper alternative for them, and for a nation with a broken health care system, is to have them receiving $13,000 a year in disability income and regular medical care.
    The piece makes exactly this point, so I don't understand what the issue is here.
    And this
    "Despite the ministrations of what Joffe-Walt labels the “disability industrial complex,” the majority of disability applicants are actually denied. SSI and SSDI are not boondoggles." The CBPP analyzed Social Security records and determined that out of 1,000 applications for disability, 410 are allowed, more than one-third of those after appeals.
    She states this clearly. This was in her piece, that many disability claims are rejected. However, there are lawyers that get paid by the government to contest these rejections. And once a claimant hires a lawyer, their success rate increases dramatically. The lawyers who overturn the rejections get paid by the government, they receive a percentage of  back pay if they win.
    •  Thank goodness for those lawyers. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peptabysmal, dotdash2u

      If they weren't there, the majority of those people who were first denied wouldn't get their due benefits.

      What I took from the part of the report I heard was that these lawyers are a problem. Just calling them part of the "disability industrial complex" paints them in a negative light.

      People hear things through their own lenses. Hearing the report through my lense, I took this report as being an indictment of the disability system. Not because it takes years to get through the system or because people who deserve disability are denied, but because there are too many people on it.

  •  It's the latest attack, (4+ / 0-)

    talking point, on our social programs as deficit hysteria has been debunked by both Boner and Obama as not really immediate. Pretty simple actually, people because of our inequitable viscous free market economy, have no where to turn, they have no other recourse.

    Even if your able bodied their is no way for a huge segment of the population to be able to find or perform work that feeds the top and yet allows people to live decently. To blame the victims be they disabled elderly unemployed or just hungry is obscene. Shame on This American Life and NPR. Personally I gave up on NPR way back when, in the late 90's. Welfare reform that's the ticket, 'Lets do the numbers'.

    Here is a good article that clarifies this bs. I actually got from the Roosevelt Institution post on dkos this morning....  

    This Is What Happens When You Rip a Hole in the Safety Net

    The CBPP reports that the growth in the use of disability
     insurance, on the other hand, is in large part due to demographic factors—an aging population and women’s increased entrance into the workforce—which accounts for half its growth since 1990.

    The elderly are far more likely to be disabled than younger workers, and more women workers means more workers who might become disabled. Other factors that contributed to its growth include the economic downturn. Joffe-Walt reports on how disability has dovetailed with welfare pruning its rolls. As she shows in two graphs, the number of low-income people on disability rose just as the number of families on welfare declined.

    Disability receipts also rise as unemployment rises. To qualify for disability, an applicant must have, as CBPP puts it, “little or no income and few assets”—which means that if unemployment and poverty rise, more people will fit this description. As Harold Pollack points out, “If you have a bad back, and the only jobs available are manual labor, that’s a real limitation. You’re unable to work. So it very much matters that we’re in a deep recession and a lot of the opportunities people faced are limited.”


  •  At the risk of being flamed... (11+ / 0-)

    Joffe-Walt was superficial to be sure and wrong on a number of points, but a strident defense of the current structure and form of our disablity system is off base too.  It clear from any independent analysis that our current, historically cobbled together construct is not allocating funding, which is by definition a scarce resource to be rationed, correctly.  If those people in need of support who don't have the skills and resources to navigate the system are being denied or subjected to an inconsistent process of eligibility determination.  It is broken.  So too, if people with skills and resources can invoke the concept of disability in a definition so vague as to be meaningless, and get access a funding stream, the system is broken.  

    My adult child is on SSDI.  I am his legal guardian and will be for the rest of my life.  His determination of eligibility was processed immediately and efficiently so I have no personal complaint or issue with the process other than to say from my study of it, definitions of disability seem to rely on a lot of judgment calls and input from internal and external sources, which makes inconsistency inevitable.  More consistent, national standards and bodies making determinations seems called for, the design of which I'll leave to the experts.

    But my son, and many others with profound developmental or physical disabllities, are right now drawing funding from a pool that is being overwhelmed by a volume of people who meet what is now a completely anachronistic test.  These folks are like me. Aging baby boomers just now entering retirement, many with a completely expected and natural age related disability of some type.  If pooling these folks (and perhaps me someday) with people who are permanently and profoundly disabled continues to be the policy, this older cohort of people will exacerbate the stresses on my kid's finite pool of funding.  The failure of this very modest last safety net will lead to horror for our most vulnerable fellow citizens. This is a risk that is very personal and not one I can afford to blithely assume will be taken care of someday.

    The disability advocacy community, of which I am part, seems to me to have a mindset only focused only on expanding access and availabilty of funding.  Historically, that probably made a lot of sense.  But times have changed.  I think that approach is myopic and dangerous territory to stake out. A philosophy rigidly focused on expansion, rather than financial soundness and strong tests for inclusion, is a big mistake, given the demographic challenges to come.  

    Where are the arguments for program sustainability from the disability community?  Silence.  Crickets.

    I would like to challenge folks at the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and other large disability representative and advocacy groups to not only acknowledge that sustainability is in peril but advocate for a better approach to determining eligibility.  All stakeholders and key players like Congress, HHS, NIH, Treasury, and many others desperately need to reach a consensus on what it means to be disabled in the United States today.  Without that, people will go wanting and others will game this broken system.

    "Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California." - Carl Sandburg

    by Critical Dune on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 06:32:57 PM PDT

    •  let us not argue over degrees of disability (6+ / 0-)

      if you cannot do your  job due to chronic illness, you are disabled. many people are forced out, because employers don't want to put up with the sick days andinsurance costs. an employer, contrary to what people think, can fire you for being too ill to do the job. they areforcing a colleague out right now for diabetes and seizures. they had no problem with her before; a few seizures and she's out too much and now they told her don't come back to work; the board doctor will say your are disabled to help the board get rid of you. i've seen it. i have people in my family that are profoundly disabled too, and there was never any question of this. but a perosn who cannot work anymore because they might just pop a blood vessel is too disabled to work.

      •  The impact of an individual's disability (4+ / 0-)

        on their ability to support themselves, whatever their disability is or employment options may be, is an essential component of a fair and sustainable program.

        "Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California." - Carl Sandburg

        by Critical Dune on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 07:55:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  At a call center where I worked (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lirtydies, dotdash2u

          There was a woman in a wheelchair.  Her legs were pretty non functional.  I think she'd done something to her back.  But she worked as a customer service rep because her hands, eyes, and mouth all still worked just fine.

          She had this option because that job was available in our town. She was very good at it, too.

          The take-away I got from the NPR series was that these sorts of jobs, the white collar / sit down type, are not necessarily available to the less educated rural folks.  Call centers don't open up in a small town with a thousand people.  If someone can't drive and has no transportation, like that which is available in larger cities, how can they be expected to drive to where a job is available?

          The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

          by catwho on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:19:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Update: The CCD did issue a statement (0+ / 0-)

      As expected, their attitude was that there is nothing amiss with the system and NPR got it all wrong.  Again, these organizations, in order to responsibly represent their constituencies and ensure the existence of a safety net for folks who have no other options, need to get their collective heads out of the sand.  The math isn't sustainable now. It will only get worse with more demand, which the CCD seems eager to promote.  The goal can't be a society that uses a definition of disability (and access to funding) that is so vague and open to manipulation that it captures pretty much everybody.  The definitions and tests for inclusion need serious redesign so this finite funding is allocated humanely, efficiently, and appropriately.

      "Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California." - Carl Sandburg

      by Critical Dune on Sun Mar 31, 2013 at 07:40:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  they are going after any safety net left (9+ / 0-)

    -public employee unions
    -pensions-disability claims. it was only a matter of time, when 50 somethings  could find no work, they turned to disability, as many of them qualify. High BP? that's a liability on most jobs; i've seen two colleagues, both on special ed child study teams, collapse from strokes shortly after a parent screamed at them. During one meeting a parent so chastised me for nothaving the OT and speech therapist at the IEP that my BP skyrocketed and the school nurse stopped the meeting. She would not let me leave her office until my BP went down and I promised to cancel my remaining meetings that day. I have arthritis in both knees, one hip, fibromyalgia, lymphadema from cancer surgery, carpal tunnel, radial tunnel, and insomnia from chronic sinusitis. I am also prediabetic. What do you think I will do if i'm laid off?Hit the job market against younger, sprightly, and cheaper candidates? I don't think so.

  •  I don't know anyone who has "played" the system. (8+ / 0-)

    I'm on SSI, and it took me three (3) years! In order to get it I had to give up a year's worth of back pay. My representative was paid out of it by the government (the amount determined by the judge), I owed $500 for records, and over $3000 to a number of others. If it weren't for HUD I couldn't afford to live independently. I receive $710 a month and about $100 in food stamps. That puts me well below the poverty line.

    There was a state employment specialist at the hearing, who the judge gave a list of conditions to, and asked who would hire me. She said, "No one." Even then the judge was careful to inform me that it was the combination of my health conditions, not any one, that qualified me.

    The reason most people get approved after they have representation is since the representatives don't get paid unless they win, they are very careful who they represent. They pretty much have to pick what they think will be a slam-dunk.

    All the same, I'm pretty grateful for the help I get, as I would have been dead years ago without the help.

  •  I have a relative who is gaming the system (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Critical Dune, cassandraX, davidkc

    I believe that he is the exception and not the norm, but it pisses me off. His hobbies are more taxing (in a way directly relevant to his disability) than most jobs and he has no problem putting 30-40 hours/week in on them.

    I looked into reporting him, but (at least at the time) there was no way to do so anonymously and the resulting family blow back would have been too much of a disincentive.

    What irks me the most about it, is that the situation has forced me into repeatedly thinking "get a job" and sounding, in my head, like the victim of a republican mind meld.

    Again, for emphasis, I believe he is the exception. Even though any system will be taken advantage of by some, that does not take away from the need to have safety nets like this in place.

    Maybe one area for improvement, though, would be a way to provide anonymous tips to help root out the people who are taking the help away from people who genuinely need it.

    •  Cheaters are stealing from our most vulnerable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandraX, Sparhawk, squarewheel

      Though I think any type of  tip lines are wrong re individuals (but certainly not professional enablers). Not all disability is visible.  Thats why knowledgable and accountable intake is key. A bigger GAO budget and aggressive investigations like the Scooter Store matter. "call the number and we'll do the rest with our crooked doctors.  No cost to you! Then you can even sell it on Craigslist and pocket the dough."   Its a cost to all of us.

      Drives me nuts...and don't get me started on legal marketing/advertising.  

      Joffe-Walt is right about the business of disability.  It's big and growing and not just for social security. 5 grand for a soup to nuts evaluation to qualify for an LD diagnosis and extra time on standardized tests?..which may lead to a higher score. Better college. Better earnings.  Cheap investment! Not uncommon with those in the know, especially the 1%.  LDs are real and serious and some students desperately need the accommodation...but look at the growth in the numbers taking tests with extra time. Is it ALL on the up and up?

      Those who think cheating isn't taking place in government programs or life strike me as pretty naive. Fighting it does matter.

      "Those dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and the Yosemite is to California." - Carl Sandburg

      by Critical Dune on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:44:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course cheating takes place across the board, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        in the private workplace as well.

        We are all continuing to pay the terrible cost of unrestrained private marketplace cheating that has not yet been properly aired and brought under control.

        It is no surprise that our Government programs are experiencing a secondary "blowback" caused by the economic calamities visited upon millions in our country.

      •  Sure cheating takes place. It's a fallible human (0+ / 0-)

        System that serves fallible humans.  The real question is do we set up a system and fund it, to find the cheaters? Or would we end up taking the money that we need to help more people and using it to chase down a relative handful of cheaters?  Personally, I'd rather see my tax dollars spent on helping folk who need help, even at the expense of helping some cheaters.  Is the "disability industrial complex" cheating the system?  First you have to ask if they've helped people who need it, and if that outweighs the money they take.

  •  I qualified quickly for SSDI because my advanced (9+ / 0-)

    cancer diagnosis is on an official list of recognized disabling conditions. (I'm sure it also helped that my oncologist has staff to handle the paperwork, which they did thoroughly and well.)
    As several people have said above, I'd gladly swap my benefits for a healthy body and the ability to engage in gainful employment.
    Another factor to consider--the aging population doesn't just mean an increase in disabling conditions from illness and/or injury, it also means that according to the way the evaluation process works, more people are likely to qualify. Advancing age triggers some recognition from the system (in ways I don't fully understand) that the older one is when applying for disability, the easier it is to qualify.
    Even with my SSDI benefits, however, I might not have survived without my husband's income. I'd be at real risk of being homeless or dead. And that's the real problem: no adequate safety net in this country.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 07:54:14 PM PDT

  •  About that medical care... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, dotdash2u

    while it is true that recipients of SSDI are elegible for Medicare, which is one of the saving graces of the program, note that there is a one year waiting period from the time your disability payments kick in to the time when you are eligible for the Medicare coverage.  So your first year on disability you're still without health care.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 08:15:26 PM PDT

  •  In case you don't think that NPR is RW, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, peptabysmal

    read this:

    Right. And that would drive the numbers down. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Remember, that's supposed to ban discrimination against people with disabilities. So you would think, in theory, that more disabled people would be working because of that.
    Yay, now there's no discrimination against me, so I can get an office job even though I'm blind! /snark
  •  Studs Terkel seems alien to "This American Life"nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 Acedia is essentially a flight from the world that leads to not caring even that one does not care

    by annieli on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:03:44 AM PDT

  •  what, precisely, are (5+ / 0-)

    those who are too unwell to work in the mostly appalling jobs that are available and desperately in need of health care, supposed to do?

    Die and decrease the surplus population?  They offer no solutions, only attacks on the vulnerable, as usual.  NO ONE is getting fucking rich on disability.  Another, "Look over there!  There is the reason you are in economic pain!  Those greedy recipients of handouts!"

    Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

    by KibbutzAmiad on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:06:39 AM PDT

  •  What Do You Expect From NPR? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The entire organization is infested with Ivy League elitists who don't know a damn thing about how average people live.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:09:31 AM PDT

  •  None of those rebuttals is compelling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Sparhawk, Critical Dune

    The essence of a badly run system is that it doesn't adequately do what it's supposed to do, which is fully compatible with doing what it's not supposed to do.  As usual, progressives are quick to defend good and necessary programs by denying the reality of the bad and unnecessary.  

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:20:18 AM PDT

  •  An annoying follow-up - free of blame acceptance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was also featured on the March 29th edition of All Things Considered.

    Well, all things considered except whether Chana Joffe-Walt's core premise was reasonable, her numbers really correct, and her attribution of cause and effect for growth in Disability claims on target.

    No effective rebuttal was given to the points eloquently outlined by Baker and others - all she wanted to do was assuage fears of her listeners that Chana's goal was anything but pure.

    CORNISH: Now, Chana, as you mentioned, we got a ton of mail about this, and some of it was angry, from folks who say that this program, they say, has kept me alive, kept me in my home, gets me health insurance, and they really are fearful about the scrutiny of the program, that that will mean it'll go away.

    JOFFE-WALT: Yeah. I want to say there is no question these programs play a really important role in the lives of lots of people. People with disabilities have been marginalized forever. So scrutiny of a program that supports millions of people with disabilities is a sensitive area to go into. To me, the fact that these programs do support so many Americans and growing numbers of Americans makes it all the more important to actually look at them and say, what are they doing, how are they designed, are they functioning well, what role are they playing?

    You know, we didn't set out to do a story about how these programs should be eliminated. We weren't, you know, in search of some sort of massive fraud nor did we find any massive fraud. What we found were programs that were growing really quickly. And to understand why so many people are turning to disability, you really have to look at the larger context, you know, the context of an economy that is changing in really fundamental ways and has been for decades to a point where, right now, the economic landscape is really dismal for millions of workers, especially low-skilled workers.

  •  You know, I don't care if (8+ / 0-)

    people are "cheating" to get disability. I really don't. I'm okay with the idea that a few people might be gaming the system, if it means that kids born with disabilities get food, shelter and medical care. I'm fine with that.

    I would rather see a family squatting in a house they aren't paying for, then see them without shelter, surrounded by empty, foreclosed houses.

    I'm okay with people getting food assistance who might not need it, if it means that hungry people get food.

    I'm really tired of the argument that we should dismantle the whole railroad because some people are hitching a free ride on the boxcars.

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:28:19 AM PDT

  •  I have to disagree (6+ / 0-)

    I listened to the whole report and did not come away with the impression that  was some sort of attack on the people enrolled in the system.
    The report did imply that some states were moving people onto disability because the Feds. pay for it instead of them, and that in many cases people who could conceivably work office jobs were given disability because the only jobs available in their locale were physical ones. It also pointed out that some people who thought they might be able to work were afraid to try because they might  be tossed out of the system and be unable to get back in if they couldn't handle it. They did in fact point out that most who apply are turned down and the process can take a very long time.
    Overall I thought it was a pretty balanced and fair report, and was not anti-worker at all, as this diary implies. The gist I got was that the system needs reform and better rules, and it could and should work better both for the government and also the people who depend on it, not that it's some giant scam perpetrated by lazy workers.
    How many of the folks commenting here on how awful NPR is have actually heard the whole series?

  •  I don't listen much to This American Life (0+ / 0-)

    They play loose with the facts.  The foxconn episode also comes to mind.  Ira Glass is far more interested in a dramatic presentation than the facts.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:32:25 AM PDT

  •  She decided what the story would be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (or was paid for the story would be) nd then went out and looked for anecdotal evidence to back it up.  Journalism is dead.

  •  I knew the minute I heard the promos for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, dotdash2u, peptabysmal

    this story what the Right wing reaction would be. And the right wing knew too. In fact, the promos were pretty misleading, and I would bet that most of the criticism aimed at these programs were made just on the basis of listening to the promos and not the actual show. While I think Joffe-Walt was trying to show how the explosion of disability claims is really the symptom of a larger problem, she and TAL were supremely naive in thinking that any criticism from a "left" leaning public radio show of a government program would not be seized upon immediately by the right. She has done a far greater disservice to her cause in the way it has presented. It has left a huge hole for the Republicans to drive their misrepresentation truck through, and has now likely set the stage for "reforms" initiated by the Republicans that our president will be happy to go along with, all in the name of "compromise" and "getting along". The end result, more poverty and misery, and no address of the real problem. TAL really should be a little more savvy next time.

  •  I heard a small portion of the program (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lirtydies, peptabysmal

    while riding in my car before I turned it off. I was appalled that the reporter compared her editor with "back problems" to a woman with five degenerated discs who would be required to do physical labor rather than sit at a desk in a fancy lumbar supporting chair.

    NPR is sliding ever further rightward, which I find distressing.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 09:55:37 AM PDT

  •  I heard the story last weekend..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotdash2u, Mike08

    and I got the impression that the reporter made it sound like these people went the disability route because they were lazy and there was a Dr. in town who made it easy for them to go on disability.  I was upset and kept shaking my head because she took a simplistic look at these peoples problems and illnesses.  I have a relative that has a brain tumor.  She cannot work due to constant pain in her head and eyes.  There is no employer that will let her sit at a reception desk in constant pain.  She was on disability for one year then they denied her saying she could work. Finally she had to have surgery and she was worst off.  They denied her again.  Finally she got an attorney and was approved this year.  It took her three years from diagnosis to surgery to get disability.  I have another friend who has a brain tumor and is also in constant pain.  Fortunately for him he retired early at 53yrs old and about three years later his brain tumor got progressively worst.  After ten years he could get disability but will wait to get SS if he lives that long.  He has a good state pension and medical insurance.  He's one of the lucky ones.  He has family support and has a place to live.  

    Most people who don't have a family member or friend with illnesses that prevent them from working won't feel sympathetic and call for even longer and more stringent rules to prevent folks from getting disability.   Being mentally ill should be a reason to go on disability but if you are a minority with no access to mental health doctors and it's looked down upon going to a mental health professional complicates things.   My brother was poisoned at an early age.  It damaged his mental abilities.  He went to special education classes but as an young adult was able to do manual work.  His mental state caught up with him in his early 50's and has early stage dementia.  Fortunately he had a good pension but got himself in some financial situations that at 62yrs old I signed him up for early SS benefits.  He still does not have medical insurance because he waited too late to apply for the retirement medical benefits from his last job.  I am hoping that next year with the ACA going into full force I can get him the medical care.

  •  Story wrong on Social Security retirement (0+ / 0-)

    Some of the criticism of the story seems to me to be a judgment call, much like disability determinations themselves. But the last paragraph, where it says the Social Security retirement fund will "run out" of money in 2035 is flat out wrong.

    The correct statement is that in 2035, barring any changes in the meantime, there will not be enough in the piggy bank to pay retirement benefits in full. Not the story's implication that they can not be paid at all. The fund could pay ⅔, or better, of benefits indefinitely, probably better once the swollen Boomer generation leaves the program at the far end. That's why the retirement system needs only fairly minor tweaking, compared to health care, which remains a mess, Obamacare or no.

    Indeed, besides the skills mismatch that leaves these workers unqualified for jobs within their diminished physical capabilities (and the demand mismatch that places few such jobs in the generally impoverished places they live), accessibility to health care is a big incentive to go on disability. And, by the way, don't discount economic incentives. Frankly, if we set up a system of perverse incentives where people can apply for cash payments if their children do badly in school, a lot of children will do badly in school.

  •  I did know someone on disability SSI. She called (0+ / 0-)

    it her crazy money. She did die 6 years later of a brain tumor. But nobody knew that then.

    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

    by 88kathy on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 10:49:13 AM PDT

  •  As someone who has dealt directly with SS.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was denied ten times in five years, even though I had received it as a child due to birth defects. I have eye problems which take a lot of strength out of me without corrective lenses. I'm also on the Autism Spectrum, which to employers, makes me radioactive.

    Funny thing is, despite my challenges, I still managed to obtain two degrees in computer science, making dean's list and honors list several times in the process.

    Yet after all that, I feel like I'm back at square one. I can't find work anywhere because I live in a county and state devoid of any opportunity whatsoever.

    Social Security's paper pushers wouldn't last a day in my shoes, or any one who receives benefits for that matter.

    I write a series called 'My Life as an Aspie', documenting my experiences before and after my A.S. diagnosis as a way to help fellow Aspies and parents of Aspies and spread awareness. If I help just one person by doing this, then I've served a purpose.

    by Homer177 on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 11:19:52 AM PDT

  •  There is this thing called "Baby Boomers" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The largest age group is getting older and after many of them worked hard a good portion of their lives, some are finding their bodies are not functioning as well as they would like. Of course the numbers are going up on SSD because the number of disabled people is going up. I wish this would be mentioned.

    Getting medical treatment? Even when I saw doctors on a regular basis none would touch telling me I may have an inflammatory arthritis. Even though my blood tests were very high regarding the CRP test. Over years. If they had told me I could have received treatment and thus not have to have pain 24/7. But I guess they were following the insurance company's guidelines to cut costs. Or whatever. At least SS recognized I have serious medical issues.

    You know if there was better medical care in this country there would be less people on SSD. Even with Medicare it's a crap shoot. I have no clue as to even finding a doctor that will treat Rheumatoid Arthritis or other inflammatory diseases. Because of bad doctors over my lifetime I am so afraid I am going to go to the wrong one and throw my money away and end up in the same place with no treatment again.

    It would be nice if there was a show that pointed out the real issues. That you can't complain about SSD and SSDI without looking at what affects it and the people on it. I think there are a lot of good points brought up in the comments on here.

  •  I'm one of those people. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of few accepted the first time because it's hard to deny 42 years of medical records.  My disability is mental illness, and I could indeed work full time if anyone would hire me, given my resume.  The down side is they have to have someone close by watching for the throwing pens ripping phone line out of the wall incidents and hospitalize me.  Then hold my job open until I'm through the depression that follows the mania.  It's usually 4-7 months.  Then there's the cost of insuring me, paying me enough so I can handle various co-pays and debt I rack up from time to time.  For 3 years I'll be your best whatever.  I'll get awards, even.  Then I'll start annoying people as I clamp down on the manic shit, the paranoia, the conviction that your way of doing business would benefit from my brilliance, the gradual disconnect from what I'm hired to do.  

    If you know anyone who needs a great administrative assistant who can write really well, organize anything, out perform everyone else for 3 years then needs a year in a safe place, send me a kosmail.  I'd love a job!  My teeth and my eyes and my ears would benefit, too.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 12:04:21 PM PDT

  •  it's disappointing when NPR tries to get street (0+ / 0-)

    cred with the right, they should be smarter than that and realize that the vast majority of these dogs just don't hunt, that the "liberal" interpretation is most often the correct one. I remember, vaguely, another TAL show with some heatlh care stories in it that was sort of in a similar vein. I don't honestly remember the details, but I do remember thinking at the time "you know, that just isn't right, or only part of the story is being told, or...". Shame on them, and I really like most of what TAL puts out.

  •  The story was about the exploitation of SSDI (0+ / 0-)

    by players in the private economy and its structural short-comings. I take issue with the assertion that it 'implied that lots of people are receiving SSDI who do not deserve it.' That was not my takeaway from the story at all. I think that progressives are ill-served when they adopt the mind-set that criticism equates to condemnation. I thought the story was excellent and unvarnished analysis. The anecdote about a woman who abandoned her tutoring job because SSDI rules and regulations meant she might lose all assistance if she continued at the job was not an indictment of the woman's motivation; it was an indictment of rules which effectively de-incentivized this woman's attempt to get ahead.

    I do not think it is 'reactionary' to accept that badly-formulated assistance programs can result in inculcating a culture of government dependency. In the same way that changing the tax code during the Clinton era resulted in a massive decrease in individuals on welfare, I think that thinking creatively about SSDI's shortcomings can yield a net positive effect. I WANT to insure that SSDI is there for individuals and children who need it. Not addressing problems simply serves to give ammunition to conservatives who decry that ALL government assistance is suspect.

     I agree with 99% of McCarters opinions, but not this time!

  •  Children and families (0+ / 0-)

    The Boston Globe did a big story on this months ago -- what IS the "new welfare" is families where their income consists of every child being put on SSI basically from as early in toddlerhood as some doctor will sign off on a diagnosis. (And there's a network of docs willing to assist.) The government eased up on proof of mental disabilities some years ago, with good intentions, but the result that any child diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication may qualify for $700+ a month. Being coded in school for learning disabilities may be enough. Multiply that by 3 kids, and you have a family income that is way higher than TANF ever was.

    I have had clients in this situation -- no one is working (at least not on the books), and the family is living off the kids' SSI. I had one mom tell me that because of this, the landlord was prohibited from evicting them -- ever, no matter what. And teenagers are told that they must not get a job, because that would prove they could work and their benefits check would end.

    When a child is legitimately totally disabled, then it makes sense because caring for that child is a full-time job. But what's going on in the street is something else. We should not be so ideologically pure as to diss anyone who points out the unintended consequences that border on fraud, if not actual fraud.

    This is a different fact situation -- and a very different legal standard -- than an adult who becomes ill or injured, and can't find a job that they're capable of doing.  

  •  It was the narrator herself (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotdash2u, Mike08

    I did listen to the whole thing, and came away wishing the facts had been presented by someone more aware of the world on the ground. It made me cringe to hear her trying to "investigate," as if from some higher level.  

    For example, it took her how long exactly to realize there weren't any white collar jobs in that Alabama town?  

    Also, does she really think that the ADA provisions mean more people should be working? I would challenge her to live one week without the use of her legs and needing an accessible bathroom -- just go about her normal life, doing her normal tasks with all the reasonable accommodations in place.

    The basic premise, though -- which I heard as People Can't Work Because There Are No Jobs And So They're Increasingly Figuring Out That What We Call "Disability" Is Really Welfare And Taking Advantage Of It -- doesn't seem particularly insightful or original.  

    Yes, people in rural communities all over the place are in trouble.
    Yes, we have a system with huge gaps in health care.
    Yes, if you have to choose between a painful service job and a minimal subsidized existence, a rational person will probably take the option that lets them see a dentist when they need to.
    Yes, we are still (thank you Puritans!!) a culture that needs to pretend it believes in the dignity of work.

  •  This is such an "elephant" moment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dotdash2u, nomandates, peptabysmal

    Where you stand shapes your impression, just like the classic elephant tale.  Client, attorney, employer, politician.  All come away differently.

    The rules for disability are fundamentally binary.  You must be severe enough to not be able to work for at least 12 months.  Therefore, working without being under the aegis of an approved work program, is evidence that you are not disabled.  

    And in evaluating disability, they do look at the kinds of jobs that one could do.  Do you have transferrable skills to do sedentary work?  Does a job exist you could do?  Then, despite the fact such jobs do not exist in the local economy, you can be found not to be disabled.

    The waiting period for benefits and medicare are evidence that legislatively the govt wants people to use their own resources first prior to getting the cash or the medical.  It's a conscious decision pf the law and efforts to reduce or eliminate them have failed due to the added costs they represent.

    Given this, it's hard to see where this has become some sort of gravy train for the lazy.  

    The issue of SSI for disabled children and the ramifications of such cash have been fodder for the press since the mid 1980s.  Every decade some newspaper does an expose on this.  

    From my job I know there are some families who have disabled kids who try and milk the system, but for most families, it's not a game.  If people think this is a fun lifestyle, I urge them to go and actually live it for a few months.  

    The choice then becomes do you try and tighten up criteria (and figure out how to pay for the added overhead that such tightened criteria will require by SSA staff) and deal with non-cheaters who get caught by the change or just try with the tools you have?

    There are those from both sides who react from a position of ideological purity while the staff and the citizens are living in the real world.  The system is imperfect, but it's imperfectness doesn't mean it's broken or that it can't be improved.  It means that the laws and regulations are static while the world is changing.  Making the system always 2 steps behind.  Giving folks who exploit gaps the gaps they need to exploit.  

    But that shouldn't distract us from the fundamental reality here; these programs are the last stop lifeline for many and these are honest, hard working people who get here from no fault of their own.  

    •  Excellent explanation, puzzled13. (0+ / 0-)

      You mentioned having knowledge from your job of the reality underlying the rules for disability, and it certainly shows. Thank you for posting this information here.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. (Click on orange text to go to linked content.) Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
      Hope to see you around!

      "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

      by nomandates on Sat Mar 30, 2013 at 04:15:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "In the real world..." (0+ / 0-)

    I've worked through many physical conditions and chronic depression - and never thought once about disability. Which isn't meant for what's it's being used for by a growing segment of these people.

    Disability is SUPPOSED to be for people who have serious illnesses and really can no longer work, like my wife, not moaners who make excuses.

    So please, spare me this nonsensical drivel masquerading as informed opinion.

  •  I heard the entire NPR story (0+ / 0-)

    and what I personally got from it is that our economy no longer produces living-wage jobs for older and/or less educated folk and for people with children.  It's a rather logical decision, really, to apply for disability (where you'll have healthcare, eventually) instead of toiling away at a crap minimum-wage job where you'll have no chance of healthcare, ever.  In most cases the minimum-wage job hardly pays any better than disability benefits, and is often grueling, painful, and undignified.  I think NPR could have done a better job at hammering this point home, however.  I would have liked to heard a comparison between the average earnings per month with the federal minimum wage vs. the average monthly disability benefit.  

    Anyway, these people aren't "scammers" or "takers", they're just trying to stay alive, and therefore making a rational decision that most others would make if they were in their shoes.  Our economy-our nation-has thrown away a LOT of people over the past decade.  Where are these people supposed to go?  What are they supposed to do?   What happens when your unemployment insurance runs out and you still haven't found a job in spite of sending out dozens of resumes per week for TWO YEARS?  Are there no workhouses? (snark)

    To clarify, I am NOT saying that people on disability (and the people profiled in the NPR story) are not legitimately disabled.  What I am saying is that some of them could work at a sedentary job that would accommodate their disabilities and provide health insurance.  Many of those jobs don't really exist anymore, and job re-training is expensive (and often ultimately unhelpful due to age discrimination), so the only choice many of them have is to apply for disability.

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