Tag Archive: Disability Benefits


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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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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Hi all! I just want to share with you some political news I got in my e-mail. I want to caution readers in that I don’t know if the proposed cuts in Social Security by the President would affect the disabled, but I am worried about that. I also do not think it is fair for seniors either since many of them can barely scrape by. There is a new proposal that may help fix the problem.

closeup of US Social Security cards

closeup of US Social Security cards (Photo credit: SalFalko)

Here is the e-mail I received:

With corporations cutting worker pensions, our grandparents and veterans need Social Security more — not less.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says we should increase them. Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) agree. Even better, they’re doing something about it.

Can you sign our petition in support of Harkin and Begich’s bills that would EXPAND Social Security benefits? Click here.

Sens. Harkin and Begich will be on MSNBC’s Ed Show this Saturday at 5pm Eastern to discuss this bold proposal.

Unlike the president’s proposal to cut Social Security benefits, Harkin and Begich would give a worker $452 more per year by age 75 and $807 more by age 85.

And they would make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share by “scrapping the cap” on what wealthy people pay into Social Security. This would pay for the benefit expansion and extend Social Security’s solvency for decades.

Can you sign the petition in favor of expanding Social Security benefits?

We’re working directly with Senators Harkin and Begich to move these bills forward.

This petition and this weekend’s Ed Show appearance are the first steps. Then come calls to Congress, local press conferences, and the release of poll numbers showing the popularity of this proposal.

It’s time for progressives to play offense. That’s what we’re doing. Join the fight!

— Stephanie Taylor, Adam Green, Kimberly Fountain, and the PCCC team