Hi Peeps!

I rarely ever bring up political news on my blog but this one really disturbs me. Recently in the news they have talked about the “record high” of people on disability insurance. Below I have an article from Media Matters refuting the exaggeration of the “problem” But first I will put in my two cents.

Since some mental health consumers get disability at least for a short time then we need to be proactive against those who would cruelly hurt the mentally ill (and in fact all disabled persons). And despite what conservatives say, it is not easy to get in the first place. There are very few cases of fraud.

One of the big reasons that more people are on disability is simply because we have an aging population. It is not right to judge simply on the basis of numbers. Or by the way a person looks.

Many disabled people get judged by others simply based on the fact that you can’t always see a disability. I have experienced that myself, having both bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia. The people closest to me can see that I am disabled. The average person could not. And mentally ill people do not all go around talking to themselves all the time or exhibiting other odd behaviors. They can seem quite normal, until they have a relapse. A client at the mental health center I used to work at had schizophrenia. He had a relapse and within less than a week he became homeless and destitute. He was fired from his job and kicked out of his housing because they thought he was on drugs. He was afraid to tell them the truth because mental illness carries a worse stigma than drug use.

THIS IS WHY WE NEED SAFETY NETS

That is a good example but still many people do not understand that bipolar and other depressive disorders are just as disabling (and some do exhibit symptoms similar to schizophrenia, I have.)

It really is just about impossible to keep a job if you are crying all the time, or are manic and behaving irrationally. Add to it loss of touch with reality and the odds of keeping your job are zero. I got fired from a job that I had kept for 12 years because I was depressed and out of touch with reality. I was behaving oddly and made an accusation against a co-worker that was due to the fact that I could not separate reality from non-reality.

This is not to say that mental health consumers can never recover and lead productive lives. But we have to be careful to make sure that if there is a relapse that they can get help. Currently the law allows those who relapse after going off of disability to have their benefits re-instated.

And there are some that may never be able to work at all and they should not be judged.

A good line to say to those who think that you are faking your problems is to say “You may not see my disability, but I can sure see yours!” 😉

This article is from Media Matters:

Two Charts That Show Conservatives Don’t Understand Disability 

HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

Conservative media hyped a misleading chart attempting to show that the number of Americans receiving federal disability benefits has reached unsustainable highs, comparing the figure of recipients to the population of random countries around the world. Accurate charts putting the figure in reasonable context, however, show that the number of needy Americans in this safety net program is astonishingly low.

On May 21 Fox News and the Drudge Report hyped the findings of conservative news site CNS which pushed the false idea that too many Americans are currently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, stating that the number has reached “a new all-time record” and featuring a graph blasting the fact that more people get disability benefits than live in Greece and Tunisia:

 

From CNS News, Disability Beneficiaries Compared to Other Countries' Populations

There are also more people in the state of Ohio than Greece or Tunisia, but that isn’t cause for alarm. A more accurate graph showing the number of Americans who receive this necessary benefit shows that compared to the total number of Americans who have disabilities, and the total population of the U.S., relatively few individuals are on this government program:

U.S. Disability Benefits in Context: Chart

Right-wing media have a history of misleading about federal disability programs as part of their campaign to deceptively portray the programs as wasteful and unsustainable. In reality, these programs have low fraud rates, are highly difficult to qualify for, and help the rising number of Americans with severe disabilities survive when they are unable to work.

UPDATE: CNS’ original chart is even more misleading than Media Matters originally noted. Their chart starts the y-axis at 10.4 million, rather than zero, exaggerating the difference between the number of disability beneficiaries and the populations of various random countries. For better context, we have updated our improved chart to show what CNS’ graph would look like if it included the full U.S. population at the correct scale and started the y-axis at zero: Read more…

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