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Junk Journalists, Politicians, and Social Security Disability (SSDI)

  • Published: 2012-05-07 : Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss
  • Synopsis: Rough economic times mean employers hire fewer people as well as laying off other workers.

Main Document

The month of April, 2012 found some interesting statistics being released. For example; in April the number of workers decreased by around 340,000 people - finding the unemployment rate at 8.1%. The reason this is relevant to People with Disabilities is because during the same month greater than 255,000 of those workers applied for Social Security disability benefits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), almost 90,000 of them were enrolled.

SSDI - The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program. Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need.

Rough economic times mean employers hire fewer people, as well as laying off other workers. People with Disabilities as a population have always experienced the highest rate of unemployment in America; something that is changing slowly, but still remains a fact. When the overall population of workers in America finds itself experiencing layoffs, increased unemployment, and a general lack of jobs, People with Disabilities are included in the workers who find themselves unemployed. As a population, we often times do not have the same abilities as non-disabled persons to endure times of unemployment, perhaps explaining why 90,000 people were enrolled in the Social Security Disability program after applying.

The remaining 165,000 or so workers who applied for the SSDI program in April, yet were not enrolled, were most likely people who experience forms of disabilities that are not within the SSA's definitions of disability, but may limit their abilities to compete with non-disabled persons in times of unemployment. It is important to bear in mind that the application process for SSDI is lengthy, involved, and certainly not an easy one.

When my husband applied for SSDI in 1993, he had to go through a series of medical tests, find legal representation, and appear before a judge. The paperwork involved was not simple. The process began many months prior to his appearance in court. The workers who applied for SSDI because they were unable to continue working found themselves facing a very similar situation.

The month of April is one month out of this year of course. In the first four months of 2012, almost 1 million workers applied for SSDI. The Social Security Administration says that around one-third of the workers who applied for the program will find themselves enrolled eventually. Since the start of the year, approximately 333,000 people have been enrolled in the SSDI program.

The statistics that have been released are ones that are somewhat misleading. When Tom applied for SSDI, it took months on end to go through the process of filling out the paperwork, seeing medical professionals, obtaining a lawyer, visiting various offices, setting the court date, waiting, appearing in court before a judge, and then waiting for assistance to begin. People do not simply apply for Social Security Disability in the month of April and then start receiving benefits the same or the next month. The current waiting list for assistance through this program is around two years.

When you read articles online or through publications, please bear in mind that the workers who applied for SSDI most likely did so years before the statistics concerning them appeared. Journalist have a love of presenting articles with, 'shock value,' and seem to enjoy presenting People with Disabilities as a burden on society. It is not unreasonable to suggest that articles written by such journalists comprise junk journalism.

In America today the population of people is in excess of 313 million. The overall population of People with Disabilities in this nation is around 54 million. While People with Disabilities are America's largest minority population, we certainly are not the entire population by any means. Junk journalists and politicians who suggest that people who experience forms of disabilities and are on the SSDI program are somehow going to destroy the American economy need to remember that a nation that does not take care of its own is a nation of shame.

The same junk journalists and politicians need to remember the budget for the Pentagon, as well as the extravagant expenditures related to the military in general. America spends almost half as much as the rest of the world combined on the military. One cannot help but ask, 'Which is more important - a bunch of old military programs, or People with Disabilities'

The thing that should scare junk journalists and certain politicians in relation to People with Disabilities and the SSDI program is a lack of part-time jobs that meet SSA guidelines for income. People with Disabilities on SSDI who have a part-time job within the SSA's income guidelines are People with Disabilities who have income that can not only be taxed; they have income they can spend in the economy. If these junk journalists and politicians really cared, they would be doing everything they could to ensure we have these job opportunities.

The junk journalists and certain politicians in America should be advocating for a military that is adequate to protect this nation and not half of the world. Doing so would enable America to focus spending on the citizens of this nation. Instead, they manipulate statistics related to things such as the SSDI program in attempts to frighten people. Instead, they spew hate advertisements and garbage journalism.

The experience of disability has been, is, and always will be a fact of human existence. Despite nation or community, populations will always have members who experience forms of disabilities. Portraying the experience of disability by members of society as being somehow, 'shocking,' or, 'new,' is perhaps the most ignorant thing a journalist or politician can do. The programs a society has in place to assist People with Disabilities are a reflection of a society's sense of humanity and must be respected; not represented as a burden by junk journalists or politicians.

How more and more 'disabled' Americans affects the shrinking U.S. labor force
blog.american.com/2012/05/how-more-and-more-disabled-americans-affects-the-shrinking-u-s-labor-force/

"Now that the labor force participation rate is at its lowest level since 1981, it's a good time to take another look at how the rising number of disabled Americans affects the official size of the workforce. Here are disturbing facts from Bloomberg. Hmmmm ..."

Overview - FY2012 Defense Budget (PDF)
comptroller.defense.gov/defbudget/fy2012/FY2012_Budget_Request_Overview_Book.pdf

"The FY 2012 DoD budget requests a total of $670.9 billion:
$553.1 billion for the DoD base budget, which excludes funding directly related to overseas contingency operations (OCO). $117.8 billion for OCO requirements ..."

A Special Examination Is Needed For Your Disability Claim
www.ssa.gov/pubs/10087.html

"After you apply for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits, sometimes you need to have special medical examinations or tests before we can decide whether you qualify."

Our Disability Determination Process (Blue Book)
www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/

"Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through a network of local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services or DDSs). Subsequent appeals of unfavorable determinations may be decided in a DDS or by an administrative law judge in SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review."

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