Social Security Disability Is Not Welfare

 

There are firm believers in our Country that it is wrong for others to have any sort of reliance or help from the government.  Whether it is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or any program that helps others through tax dollars, they still believe we are enabling people to be dependent on the government. You will even hear some of the more hysterical and hyperbolic commentators even refer to government assistance as “tyranny.” This is simply ludicrous.

Real tyranny is something like when you hear about Americans who have had to bribe their way out of third world airports for no reason, so we know real government tyranny when we see it. So a program that helps the injured, disabled and elderly when they have no other means or deserve government help is hardly “tyranny.”

Many of the naysayers are also mistaken when they believe we are somehow taking from those who are working hard and giving to those who won’t. If this idea could be summed up in three words, they would be “Why should I?”

“Why should I have to give my hard-earned tax dollars over to someone who won’t work? I work 50 hours a week when I have to. Why can’t they?”

 

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Social Security Disability Insurance is. It is not for people who won’t work; it is for people who CAN’T work. And the use of Social Security Disability Insurance doesn’t “take away” from anybody. Most of us contribute to the Social Security Disability Insurance fund when we work and pay into the system, which happens when Social Security is taken out of your paycheck. So when people become disabled and are no longer able to work, taking part in the SSDI program is not charity. Those who qualify for SSDI benefits have paid into it at least five out of the last ten years. Assuming that someone collecting SSDI is “taking away” from you is like assuming that someone who has a policy with the same insurance company is “taking away” from your health care if he breaks his leg.

And with regards to the “why can’t they work” question, the answer is that they medically cannot.  People who apply for and collect SSDI benefits have been seriously injured in car accidents, have been hurt on the job, or they are suffering with an illness that makes work impossible. Would it be more about “freedom and liberty” if these folks had no recourse at all? Should we just let them be thrown out in the street? Of course we shouldn’t. This is why the Social Security Disability Insurance program exists.

There is also an inference that SSDI is something that you can just sign up for at the local CVS. Nothing can be further from the truth. Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is an intense process that involves a legal hearing, thorough medical documentation, and testimony from medical or vocational experts. A disability applicant typically has a two year wait, a hearing, and several medical evaluations before they are able to qualify. So the idea that SSDI enrollment is a simple thing to go through is at best laughable.

Greenberg & Bederman does not buy into the urban myths about SSDI benefits, nor do we buy into the idea that everybody who needs it is somehow “lazy” or a “moocher.” Disabilities affect people of all races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and genders. We help our clients get the benefits they need and deserve regardless of who they are. If you are disabled and can’t work, we are on your side.

There was a recent, very misinformed article in Investor’s Business Daily which instilled a lot fear and misinformation in the general public. This article aimed to perpetuate the stereotype that anyone on Social Security Disability was simply looking to take an early retirement on the government’s dime. The headline reads “5.4 Million Join Disability Rolls Under Obama,” which gives the reader the impression that President Obama simply threw the floodgates open and let everybody who wants SSDI have it.

We also don’t agree with the premise of this biased article that standards for SSDI have been relaxed. In fact, denial rates are at an all-time high when individuals initially apply for disability benefits. Moreover, these problems definitely did not begin to occur under the Obama administration as this article improperly contends. As attorneys who help injury victims get through the SSDI process, we have yet to hear of anyone getting approved for Social Security Disability because their unemployment ran out, or because they couldn’t find a job. This article makes it seem like that sort of thing is happening all the time, when that simply is not the legal standard whatsoever.

Articles such as these are particularly aggravating because they are usually part of a concerted effort to sway public opinion about our President, and improperly encourage us to be less empathetic toward those with disabilities.

On the other hand, the Supplemental Security Income program is for those who have never worked or paid into the system. And, yes, our general tax dollars do help these people make ends meet. But just like in the SSDI program, these people have to be medically disabled and unable to work, but are reserved for those who have never worked and have no income or assets. The maximum SSI benefit is also capped at $698 per month, which is not that much considering SSI recipients are expected to pay for food, shelter, and basic necessities out of these monies. We should be glad help those who are disabled and have never been able to work, as the alternative is often homelessness.

When you hear things like “Everyone is going on disability because they don’t want to work,” it’s disingenuous. And it’s also using the misguided “Why should I have to” mentality towards heartless ends. None of us want to live in a country where the disabled are treated with suspicion and contempt, and where a necessary social insurance program is considered “dependency.” After all, how would you feel if your parent, sibling, or child was disabled and needed help? Our guess is that your first step would be to contact the Social Security Administration.

Greenberg and Bederman is an injury law firm located in Silver Spring, Maryland. We are currently offering victims of injuries and illnesses assistance in getting through the Social Security Disability process. If you or a loved one in Washington, D.C, Maryland or Virginia are unable to work and have been denied your disability benefits please contact Greenberg & Bederman for a free consultation.

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