BY MICHAEL P. BOYLE, ESQ./ In Portland, Ore., someone calling himself “Artemis of the Wildland” recently distributed flyers targeting recipients of Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. The flyer accuses SSD recipients of trying to destroy democracy, and hinted the author would publicly name recipients.
The clear intent of the author is to suggest that those receiving SSD benefits are not worthy and in effect are too lazy to work — and likely not really disabled.
If you read this column even once in a while, you know how often I state how hard it is to receive SSD (or SSI) benefits. SSD and SSI benefits are not “welfare” programs. To get these benefits, you have to establish you suffer from a severe impairment or combination of impairments that renders you unable to perform any past work or other jobs that exist in substantial numbers in the national economy.
About 2/3 of applicants are turned down. Many people who are disabled and unable to work must hire a lawyer and go through a hearing process. This can involve waiting years before being approved. People who lose at the hearing level must file appeals within SSA or to federal court before finally receiving benefits, years after they first became disabled. In the meantime, they have to survive on welfare or rely on family members’ generosity to survive.
To receive SSD benefits, you need to establish insured status. You do this when you work and have payroll taxes deducted every pay period. By paying Social Security taxes, we all fund retirees, the disabled and the children of parents who die prematurely. Keep in mind you may one day need to rely on these funds if you become disabled.
Rather than destroying democracy, SSD benefits prevent destitution and provide a measure of financial security for those unable to work. Without the SSD program, we would see a huge surge in poverty, crime, and homelessness, along with a big increase in ER usage, as SSD recipients also receive Medicare.
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