Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Last week, wingnut congressman Allen West was slammed for saying this:
"Since June of 2009 or so, we have seen 2.4 million private sector jobs created, but we've had 3.1 million people going on Social Security disability and, as we said just this past month, the 85,000 went on Social Security disability as opposed to 80,000 jobs created," the Florida Republican said Sunday on Fox News. "So once again we are creating the sense of economic dependence which, to me is a form of modern, 21st-century slavery."
So government assistance for the disabled is the equivalent of forced servitude. Right -- got it.

This appalled most sane people -- but today we have that nice Frank Bruni, in a New York Times op-ed, telling us (if I'm interpreting his words correctly) that 100% of the increase in the Social Security disability rolls is due to fraud committed by selfish people, and to improperly loosened standards:
Selfishness run amok is a national disease.... Too many people behave as if they live in a civic vacuum, no broader implications to their individual behavior.

They game, connive, cheat. Sometimes it's small stuff: the perfectly healthy man who presents a sham doctor's note so that his 60-pound pooch can be designated a "service dog" and thus accompany him into a lounge where pets aren't allowed.

Sometimes it's more consequential: perfectly (or at least mostly) healthy people bilking the government. Over the last four decades, the number of Americans drawing Social Security disability insurance has more or less tripled, by some estimates. That well outpaces population growth and reflects not just a liberalization of the requirements to apply for such insurance but the readiness of some people who don't truly need it to finesse the criteria nonetheless.

I've known a few of them. I bet you have, too. Making a mockery of all the Americans who rightly depend on such aid, they exaggerate impairments, pressuring doctors to validate their conditions, on the theory that no harm is really done, not when they're suckling at a teat as elastic and amorphous as the federal Treasury.
You know what, Frank? I haven't known anyone who's done this. I guess you and I run with different crowds.

Really? Those are the only two explanations for the uptick -- "a liberalization of the requirements to apply for such insurance" and flat-out cheating?

It was being reported as far back as 2009 that the disability rolls were increasing for the obvious reason that there are more aging baby boomers -- a simple demographic fact that would undercut the premise of Bruni's column, which is that America is experiencing an epidemic of selfishness (and why is this the obsession of Times op-ed writers these days?).

The report to which Bruni is alluding (PDF) doesn't exactly make this sound like a simple scam:
... from 2000 to 2009, on average, 28 percent of initial disability claims were approved and an additional 16 percent were approved on appeal. But more than half of all claims (53 percent) were ultimately denied.
Though there does seem to be a connection between applying for disability and a high unemployment rate:
An Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study of U.S. data spanning 22 years found that a 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate increased the disability claims application rate more than 10 percent and the new awards rate 7 percent overall.
So maybe hard times motivate people to apply for disability who really could work. But if you think about it, this suggests that these people actually were working. If they're scamming the government, they're doing so not out of an innate, immutable desire to get something for nothing, but because they can't find work anymore. To me, that's not morally equivalent top having your dog fraudulently designated a service dog -- that's morally the equivalent of stealing a loaf of bread when you're starving: yes, it's a crime, but it's a crime born of desperation. It's not selfishness.

I don't doubt that some people are gaming the system -- but I do doubt that a new epidemic of narcissism is causing this. It's hard out there. It's especially hard if you're over 50 and lost your job along the way. Bruni will never know economic struggle again, so this will never be a problem for him -- alas.


gallowsroad said...

Fuck you, Frank Bruni, you ignorant asswipe.

I have a service dog, and it didn't come with a “doctor's note,” you fucking troglodyte. It came from an affliction known as “medically intractable epilepsy,” wherein I seize randomly and frequently without warning and without any remedy whatsoever. My dog accompanies me everywhere I go for my safety and assistance during and following a seizure. He is also there to keep navel-gazing shit eaters like you, Frank Bruni, from interfering with my perfectly fun seizure and its mind shattering, terrifying aftermath.

Similarly, the Medicare I am entitled to as a disabled citizen of this somewhat fine country is none of your fucking business. Eat cockroaches and choke on the shells. Medicare kept me from collapsing into bankruptcy since no insurance company in its right mind would cover me, and eventually, I could not hold down a fucking job, oh, because fucking seizures, that's why you flatulent prick. No job in our rigged kleptocracy equals no fucking health care, you twat. So monthly I get a very small fraction of the money I used to earn in our Glorious Capitalist Economy plus Medicare, which, you stultifyingly dull-witted fraud, I pay for.

So fuck you, fuck your privileged perch there at the NY Times, and your addled opinions about things of which you literally know nothing. You're a goddamned embarrassment to thinking people everywhere, so do us all a favor and shed your faux-liberal credentials and join the party of the mega-rich overlords, who will rightly hold you in nothing but dismissive contempt even as you scuttle about on all fours trying to lick their lily white asses.

Palli said...

There are a lot more rich people gaming the IRS system, the banking system, the Government Regulatory system, the Charter School funding system, etc.

Victor said...

Fuck him!

Today, I heard from the attorney representing me for SS Disability.

The hearing was to be on October 3rd.
YIPEE! Right?

Well - no.
I've had no medical coverage since I lost my job, but will finally get some from NY State because my mother and I are poor enough for me to qualify for "Healthy New York" - NY's version of Medicaid.

The problem?
I don't have any new evidence to present at the hearing, since I haven't been to any specialists, had no X-rays, and don't have anything new to show them, so they'll have to go on the old information that they have, and have already declined.
And "Healthy New York" doesn't start 'til August, which is not enough time to go to my new Primary Physician, get her to refer me to specialists for my ankle, back, and hip, get the appointments, get what I need, and go to that October 3rd hearing.

So, I had to withdraw from the hearing. Now, after I get some corroborating evidence, I can go back to my attorney, and wait ANOTHER year, or more, after that call, for another hearing.

I'm not doing this because I'm lazy and shiftless, and just want to suck at the government's teat.

I worked summers in a machine shop with my Dad, from the age of 14-17.
After I fractured my shoulder in HS wrestling, I got a job, while still in HS, at Sears - in Customer Service. And I worked there for over 5 years, while I went to college to get my BA.

And since then, I've worked plenty of jobs, both corporate, and non-corporate, and was never out of work longer than 3 weeks from HS until late 2008, when I lost my job in NC.

With the exception of a little over 6 months of telemarketing, by FAR THE WORST job I've ever had - and one that I sucked at - despite never being late or absent from work, and trying my best to succeed, since a HORRIBLE job is better than NO JOB AT ALL!, I haven't been able to find work in the 2+ years since being let go from that telemarketing gig.

Despite hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of resume's sent out via internet job sites, phone calls made to companies from newspaper ads, I received virtually NO calls expressing interest.
I can count the number from legitimate companies on one hand. Now, I'll grant you, I got plenty of calls and e-mails to get me to work for some internet scam or other. But I'm not into bilking people - besides, most of those scams are to scam YOu, the prospective "employee," in their 'work-from-home' scams.


Victor said...

And now, for the end of my long rant:

I'm limited in what I can do, due to an ankle injury that has drastically affected by back and left hip.
I can't stand for long.
I can't walk far without a cane.
I'm in chronic pain - standing, sitting, and even lying down. I can't sleep on many nights because my hip hurts too much to fall asleep for longer than a few minutes.

I've tried to find work for what seems like forever - with no luck.

Almost all of the jobs in my area of upstate NY are retail. And don't let that ADA Act stuff fool you - retail companies that hire disabled people are rare. You need to move to sell products. If you're at a Customer Service desk, neither the customer, nor the company, wants someone limited to fixing problems by telephone - they expect you to show some hustle to get the customer's problem resolved.

So, I'm 54, limited physically by what I can do, with a legally blind, physically handicapped mother, who needs my help with most things except her hygiene - thank goodness - so, even if someone called with a job offer, now that my father has died, who do I leave her with?
NOT that anyone's called recently - and I KNOW - I STILL SEND job applications and resumes, hoping to get lucky.

NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what are those of us who are older, and can't find work that we can do because of some handicaps, supposed to do, besides try for SS Disability?
And don't think THAT hasn't crossed my mind.
But I can't leave Mom. If I do myself in, it will kill her, too.

What the fuck does that fucking fuck Bruni know about fucking shit?

If I could walk, I'd go to the NY Times building, wait for him, and disable his fucking nose for him with one an arthritic fist propelled by a bad shoulder.

Fuck that fucking fuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

gallowsroad said...


Get a lawyer.

The SS Disability regime is set up to deny as many people coverage as possible. Of those denied a certain percentage will not pursue the appeals process, and of those that do, many will fail. I was denied the first time, and I had spent myself into the poor house pursuing medical treatment, so there was a gigantic paper trial to prove to anyone with a brain I was beyond qualified.

A lawyer will cost you money, but not up front – it comes out of your back settlement, and is strictly limited by federal rules.

gallowsroad said...


Apologies - you said right in your first sentence you heard from your lawyer. Totally ignore my second comment. :)

Victor said...

No, gallowsroad - thanks for caring enough to give some advice!

BH said...

As one of the lawyers who specializes in this field - fuck Frank Bruni and the horse he rode in on. He obviously doesn't know his butt from a shotgun concerning the SS/SSI disability "system".

And Victor, hang in - even though the lower levels denied you with that old evidence, that doesn't mean that an Administrative Law Judge (if you draw a decent one) will. They're not bound by those prior decisions on your application.

I won't repeat the overlong rant I posted some days ago on this subject, following the Allen West post. But I will repeat this: fuck Frank Bruni.

Victor said...

Thanks. :-)

I'm "working" on it. ;-)

pygalgia said...

I'll echo Victor somewhat here. I'm 53, and would consider myself more "impaired" than "disabled", but I can't do the kind of labor that I had done for the past over thirty years. Because there are NO JOBS that will hire an older person with physical limitations, I have applied for disability. I'd much rather work in a job, but since that isn't possible, I don't feel guilty about collecting back from a system that I've been paying into for almost forty years. Just trying to figure out how to survive in a society that no longer has opportunities for me. Wish I had Bruni's job...

Philo Vaihinger said...

"Perfectly healthy people bilking the government."

Like Romney?