Disability benefits are already on the chopping block by the new GOP majority. And they are doing it in a rather unscrupulous way, by pitting the old against the young. I got this in my mailbox today from Social Security Works:

We knew that the new Republican Congress wanted to dismantle our Social Security system brick by brick—but we didn’t expect them to do it on their first day!

They’ve taken what should be a dry, mundane exercise – the adoption of new rules by the newly convening House of Representatives – and turned it into a stealth attack on our Social Security system. This rule is nothing more than an attempt to divide people who believe in Social Security.

We need to tell Congress we stand united on the side of our WHOLE Social Security system! We reject the games and forced crises. Social Security works.

The new Republican rule prevents a simple technical amendment, known as “reallocation” – something that has been done many times over the history of Social Security, something that few persons other than actuaries and other Social Security experts ever know about – from being enacted in the next two years to ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time.

The new rule mandates a 20% cut in benefits to disabled workers unless legislation is passed that either cuts workers’ Social Security retirement benefits or raises taxes.

 

There are obviously MANY things wrong with this, being unfair to both sides. But some people may ask why it would be unfair to cut disability benefits for the disabled if they are capable of working. The reason why is simple. Not all of the disabled are capable of working full-time. The way things are set up now a disabled person can make up to a certain amount of money before losing their benefits. For some this a a good test of whether they can make it in the workforce part-time or eventually even full-time. It is judged on a case by case basis. The amount of money they can make by working part-time before cutting off disability benefits is NOT enough to live on. It is in addition to the amount of money they receive from Social Security which usually is not very much at all. I get $1000 a month on SSDI. The last I was able to work part-time the limit of what I could earn was $700 a month.

This arrangement is meant to provide incentive for the disabled to work and as a test of their ability to work. Periodically for those who are not on permanent disability (as their condition may improve), they will be evaluated on whether they are capable of working full-time. This is done on a trial-basis and if they experience a relapse then they can get their benefits re-instated. With those who suffer from mental illnesses, this is a very important provision. I have witnessed relapses where people end up homeless, in one case it was less than a week. One man who went to the mental health center I worked at lost his job AND his housing after a schizophrenic episode because they thought he was on drugs.

Cutting benefits not only reduces the incentive to work but also makes it difficult for the disabled to save any kind of money for them to fall back on. It amounts to punishing them for working! These are NOT people who are living the “High Life!”

I am probably preaching to the choir here, but still my readers need to know what is going on and those who do not have any kind of disability should know WHY this is a bad move.

This is also a bad sign for those who can’t work at all. I am in that position right now because of my secondary disability, fibromyalgia. I was able to work part-time before. If the GOP is willing to do this now, what are they going to do in the future?  I am not lazy, as anyone who knows me and those who read this blog knows.

As far as people who have mental illnesses, I know people who are able to work and those who can’t. There are people who are “high-functioning” on medication and those who are not. Some are under permanent conservatorship and cannot even live independently. Of course there are some in long-term mental facilities, but that is rare since laws have changed and many such facilities have closed down. A more common thing to happen is for people to cycle in and out of short-term facilities, where they are stabilized and released. The average stay is about a week. There are advantages and disadvantages to that system, which I am not going to get into now. But the point is that no one should assume that just because someone with a mental illness is not in a hospital, that he or she is capable of living an independent life.

This move is about creating more resentment by those who are not disabled and work, and those who are retired. The GOP has already done a fantastic job of convincing people that the majority of people getting help from the government are not working and have no inclination to do so. THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE.

Does anyone really believe that the majority of people that have been brainwashed by the TPGOP are going to go for raising taxes to help the disabled? Not when they have been taught that the majority of them are faking it!

While it is true that more people are on disability it is mainly because of an ageing population. Why not go after the minority who are abusing the system, instead?

Here is the rest of the email I got received. I would encourage people to not only sign their petition but to check their ideas on how to keep Social Security solvent for EVERYONE.

Social Security isn’t a hostage or a bargaining chip. It is a universal system based on the principle that we are stronger together. The program’s opponents seek to divide and conquer. They seek to turn young against old by falsely claiming that too much is being spent on the old. This time they seek to drive a wedge between retired workers and disabled workers by claiming that reallocation helps the disabled at the expense of retirees – another preposterous claim. All of these divide-and-conquer strategies are intended to turn Americans against each other so that all of our benefits can be cut.

This is no way for elected officials to treat the constituents they are supposed to serve. Hostage-taking to force changes that the American people do not want to a vital program like Social Security is no way to run the United States of America. But if we stand together, this stealth effort to pull apart our Social Security will be defeated.

Tell Congress: We will not be divided. Support for the whole Social Security system is essential to our economic security, and we won’t stand for underhanded attempts to undermine it.

Thank you,
Alex Lawson
Executive Director
Social Security Works

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