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Ira Glass talks with Planet Money reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, about Hale County, Alabama — a place where one fourth of working age adults are on disability. That means the government has determined that due to a health issue, 25 percent of the adults in Hale County are unable to work, qualifying them for monthly payments and health care coverage. Chana explains that people in Hale County have a lot of theories as to why their disability numbers are so high: freeloaders, cheaters, hard partiers, obesity. But none of those seem quite right. The rise in disability isn't just happening in Hale County but in pockets all over the country. 14 million people are now receiving disability payments. And it's a number that is growing. We devote the whole show today to figuring out why these numbers are ballooning and what it says about our economy.....


....She spends time in Hale County, Alabama, talking to the only general practitioner in town, the main person who okays so many of the county's residents for disability. In addition to giving each patient a medical exam, the doctor also asks this question: what grade did you finish?


Linky

Basically, there are thousands of people out there who qualify for disability not because they can't work, but because they can't find or don't qualify for a job that will accommodate to their disability.

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Makes me wonder about colleges setting ridiculous tuition/fees rates. When their alumni go and collect disability and di... (more)

infogirlgeek (Apr. 06, 2013 @ 7:35a) |

Thanks for that. Sometimes my crazy idea work in my head but not in actuality. This is a perfect example/test case.

mikefxu (Apr. 06, 2013 @ 7:52a) |

It's not out of control. The gov't just denies more legit disability claims from those who lack enough savvy to manipul... (more)

duckyhood (Apr. 06, 2013 @ 6:41p) |

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I'm lazy; is that in the DSM yet? Some employers just don't understand.

the positive side of losers not being in the workplace is that they are not in the workplace.

jd2010 said:   I'm lazy; is that in the DSM yet? Some employers just don't understand.

That's probably filed under mental disorders.

Interesting info anyway. I'm not sure whether having these leeches in the workforce would cost more or less than just cutting them a check but it's seems pretty safe to say that reforming that would probably be a good thing. With cash-strapped states looking to off-load unemployed workers off their books, with companies making money filing the disability applications and the recipient themselves not having any fire under them to push them to work, it's no wonder the number of disability claims is skyrocketting.

Wife's friend at work has a daughter that has had at least two strokes. Her job, finally found a reason to terminate her two years ago. She lost first application for disability, after applying for several jobs. Used lawyer for second (appeals) attempt and lost again. Unfortunately for her, she is not a minority. Seen niece's live in boyfriend qualify for state health insurance with in two weeks, while she was denied two weeks later. Can't help but wonder if she married him and had his Spanish surname, things would be different. New form of discrimination?

Red55 said:   Can't help but wonder if she married him and had his Spanish surname, things would be different. New form of discrimination ?
she does not have to get married to change her name to whatever the heck she wants

Red55 said:   Wife's friend at work has a daughter that has had at least two strokes. Her job, finally found a reason to terminate her two years ago. She lost first application for disability, after applying for several jobs. Used lawyer for second (appeals) attempt and lost again. Unfortunately for her, she is not a minority. Seen niece's live in boyfriend qualify for state health insurance with in two weeks, while she was denied two weeks later. Can't help but wonder if she married him and had his Spanish surname, things would be different. New form of discrimination?

So your wife's coworker's daughter's niece's minority boyfriend qualified for Medicaid, proving that the disability system is racist.

Well can't argue with that.

If a doctor is purposefully misdiagnosing patients, you need to disbar the doctor.

soundtechie said:   If a doctor is purposefully misdiagnosing patients, you need to disbar the doctor.

Someone should revoke their lawyer's medical license too.

Look up "Island of the Blind" for how bad it has gotten in another country - people faking blindness and a doctor signing off on it. Just think about all these retired....I mean "disabled" people chilling in their sweats all day without setting an alarm while you commute and work all day to pay for it.

I rent homes to a lot of people receiving government checks. I would never want to live on what they bring in, working or not.

Studies have shown that people getting welfare checks are unhappier than those who earn the same amount of money

vickh said:   Studies have shown that people getting welfare checks are unhappier than those who earn the same amount of money

studies have shown when people blow my money I am unhappier than if they blow money they worked for.

I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.

umcsom said:   vickh said:   Studies have shown that people getting welfare checks are unhappier than those who earn the same amount of money

studies have shown when people blow my money I am unhappier than if they blow money they worked for.


I agree.. but Just feel better that they're not happy either.

vickh said:   Studies have shown that people getting welfare checks are unhappier than those who earn the same amount of money

yea, but that might just mean that welfare people's happiness is a "D," whereas the happiness of workers at the same income level as welfare recipients is a "D+"

I've had very functional people in their late teens see me in clinic because they wanted me to fill out their disability paperwork saying that they are unable to work. The other day, I had someone that wasn't even middle-aged come in to have their disability paperwork signed. Not filled out, signed!. They had already filled out the disability paperwork exactly how they wanted it, essentially saying that they were unfit for any sort of employment ("it's how my last doctor filled it out...I don't want to lose my benefits...you just have to sign"). It's sad.

welfare net=hammock now

OliverQuackenbush said:   I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.


somebody's disability check was late...whew!

IMHO, the biggest problem with SSI disability is once you have it you are never reevaluated. Most other short/long-term disability insurance, or even workman's compensation, depending on the condition, will want updates on your condition and might even try to secretly check up on you. I'll give you that some conditions might be permanent (e.g. blindness, mental retardation), but many of the other ones are potentially reversible. So now what we have is a system which spends all its efforts on denying all initial claims (I know of many people with legitimate claims, such as blindness, that get denied), because this is the only checkpoint for fraud. A better system could be put in place, where depending on your condition, and depending on the circumstances of your application, you will be reevaluated every X number of years.
I know of people who got disability for reasons they would no longer qualify for (an example would be a bad back, but yet I have seen this particular person lifting very heavy things). Yet, there is absolutely no mechanism for me to report this to social security. Had this person been receiving some kind of payments from a state workers compensation fund, I likely could report the fraud. Makes absolutely no sense to me.

biomedeng said:   IMHO, the biggest problem with SSI disability is once you have it you are never reevaluated. Most other short/long-term disability insurance, or even workman's compensation, depending on the condition, will want updates on your condition and might even try to secretly check up on you. I'll give you that some conditions might be permanent (e.g. blindness, mental retardation), but many of the other ones are potentially reversible. So now what we have is a system which spends all its efforts on denying all initial claims (I know of many people with legitimate claims, such as blindness, that get denied), because this is the only checkpoint for fraud. A better system could be put in place, where depending on your condition, and depending on the circumstances of your application, you will be reevaluated every X number of years.
I know of people who got disability for reasons they would no longer qualify for (an example would be a bad back, but yet I have seen this particular person lifting very heavy things). Yet, there is absolutely no mechanism for me to report this to social security. Had this person been receiving some kind of payments from a state workers compensation fund, I likely could report the fraud. Makes absolutely no sense to me.


what's this?

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/is-my-case-reviewed-to-keep-get...

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/social-security-disab...

OliverQuackenbush said:   I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.

I am a big believer in government safety net programs. Yet, these programs do require a minimum level of enforcement to check for fraud. When everyone can see people scamming the system, it undermines the public support of such programs. Do not call me a sociopath for calling out people scamming the system that my taxes fund. 25% of adults on disability in a particular location means something is seriously wrong (the worst case an outright scamming of the system, the best case is an ineffective government program).

welfare net=hammock now

duckyhood said:   what's this?

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/is-my-case-reviewed-to-keep-get...

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/social-security-disab...

Yes, they do have a process called continuing disability review. I don't know how many disabilities get flagged for this (to me it seems nearly everyone should have to be reapproved periodically). I can tell you, from the people I know on disability, is that they have never been reevaluated.
Not sure about this source, but I have also read this elsewhere, that just like there is a backlog of applications for disability, there is an equal backlog on the reviews:
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1097260
2. Continuing Disability Review (CDR) backlog. SSA is required to conduct periodic reviews to determine if existing beneficiaries should continue receiving benefits. Resource constraints contributed to SSA’s backlog of more than 1.5 million medical CDRs in FY2010. SSA’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that clearing the CDR backlog would save $15.8 billion in improperly paid lifetime federal benefits.
So if we just spend some money on enforcement we can potentially save much more in improperly paid benefits, and also restore faith in this program.

biomedeng said:   OliverQuackenbush said:   I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.

I am a big believer in government safety net programs. Yet, these programs do require a minimum level of enforcement to check for fraud. When everyone can see people scamming the system, it undermines the public support of such programs. Do not call me a sociopath for calling out people scamming the system that my taxes fund. 25% of adults on disability in a particular location means something is seriously wrong (the worst case an outright scamming of the system, the best case is an ineffective government program).


The author of the puff piece led with an anecdote about an anomaly in a tiny county of 15,000 people, where about 2,200 working-age people are on disability.

Nationwide, the disability rate is <5%. That tells us that there is at least a minimum level of enforcement to check for fraud.

biomedeng said:   duckyhood said:   what's this?

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/is-my-case-reviewed-to-keep-get...

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/social-security-disab...

Yes, they do have a process called continuing disability review. I don't know how many disabilities get flagged for this (to me it seems nearly everyone should have to be reapproved periodically). I can tell you, from the people I know on disability, is that they have never been reevaluated.

Not sure about this source, but I have also read this elsewhere, that just like there is a backlog of applications for disability, there is an equal backlog on the reviews:
http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1097260
2. Continuing Disability Review (CDR) backlog. SSA is required to conduct periodic reviews to determine if existing beneficiaries should continue receiving benefits. Resource constraints contributed to SSA’s backlog of more than 1.5 million medical CDRs in FY2010. SSA’s Office of the Inspector General estimated that clearing the CDR backlog would save $15.8 billion in improperly paid lifetime federal benefits.
So if we just spend some money on enforcement we can potentially save much more in improperly paid benefits, and also restore faith in this program.


It wouldn't be cost effective to reevaluate nearly everyone, as many people on disability have conditions that will either never improve or only get worse.

I'd really like to know how the Office of the Inspector General arrived at that estimate (interesting that this info. is missing from the article). And I'd also like to know ALL the costs of bringing enforcement up to that level (interesting that this info. is missing too).

Nationwide, the percentage of people on federal disability is <5% (this is even mentioned in the puff piece that the OP linked to). This is the statistic that the skeptics need to focus on.

Somebody claimed (apparently before an edit) that there was no way for a citizen to report Social Security fraud.

Click on the link for a reality check

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/48/~/reporti...

In the 90s I worked as a caseworker at a mental health center. I would say at least 25% of my caseload were in their early 20s, had never had a job of any length in their lives and were there to get SSI qualified. Their "disabilities" were, "depression", "anxiety", and at that time, the flavor of the month ," biploar DO". The majority were just lazy and /or addicts, but they were able to manipulate our Psychiatrists very well. Another 25% of my caseload were people like this who had already received SSI for said "infirmities". They got a monthly SSI check (basically welfare), section 8 housing, food stamps, and Medacaid/Medicare. They also qualified through the state for other lovely freebies through our clinic. They had utilities bills paid when they blew their checks on boyfriends, girlfriends, booze, cigarettes, and drugs. One even had her cable bill paid because she had "agoraphobia" even though she never had trouble making her clinic appt (integral to keeping her SSI) and I routinely saw her about town with her BF. ( Noone batted an eye at the clinic when I reported this.) I have a feeling it is far worse now.

OliverQuackenbush said:   I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.

Many people (including FW) have this mentality that because someone is on disability implies he/she is milking the system and just by expending a little more effort, they could earn a lot more. They do not understand that not everybody on the welfare have the same privileges that we have. Deny them opportunities to get off welfare and then make fun of them for still being on welfare.

How ignorant you must to blame the poor for the problems created by the wealthy. Poverty equals powerless. Money equals power. It's just that simple. Not one single poor person has ever made a law. If business doesn't pay a living wage who do you think pays? How about WalMart take some of the 100 billion just from immediate family members and pay enough of a wage to a least keep all the employees off food stamps? How about that for cutting government spending?

Collecting about $2,300 a month in disability would be a piece of cake if I wanted to go that way, but not ready to go there yet. But the more I read these things and see the way the Country is going I might just say screw it and join in


Disability as % of workforce
Disclaimer
RS4Rings said:   Collecting about $2,300 a month in disability would be a piece of cake if I wanted to go that way, but not ready to go there yet. But the more I read these things and see the way the Country is going I might just say screw it and join in
Right - surely someone smart enough and dedicated enough to succeed on their own could also spend a couple months full time researching the "best" disability-eligible medical conditions (subjective, no external symptoms, etc), how to get qualified for disability, lienent local doctors, and end up milking the taxpayers. In a well functioning welfare system, it should be hard and shameful to qualify for these benefits, and for the disabilities that are "subjective", applicants should have to regularly waste their time getting reviewed and requalified to avoid the freeloader problem. After all, if their actually disabled, they have nothing else they have to do beside show up and go through a couple day long reconfirmation process once a year or something.

Like food stamps, most welfare systems work primarily through shame and social stigma. In recent years, the present administration especially, has been working to expand these programs and reduce the social stigma associated with taking these benefits. Is it any surprise then that welfare rolls are way up, 1 in 7 are on food stamps, and more people are joining SS disability than getting a job?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2012/08/22/is-disability...
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/dibStat.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/037179_food_stamps_unemployment_us_ec...

Forbes said: There are people out there that truly want to work but are too sick or injured to do so. Sadly, many are unfortunately being branded with a stigma because of legions that are gaming the system. That is the only way we can explain how almost as many people collect disability (10.8 million) as there are working in the entirety of manufacturing (12 million).

For $2,300 a month I could live with the stigma. Heck I think I will do it. Right now the Fed is stealing from me, QE is taxing savers and really no different than what is happening in Cyprus. It's not like I have to start working on it now, Been unemployed for 4 years now, I have no education, been locked up for felonies and also committed 3 times for drug addiction, while there they also diagnosed me as bi-polar and manic depressive? Think they just throw those things in there because it makes it easier for Hospital to get more money from insurance provider, anyway it is a great paper trail for me to collect. Also my Primary care doctor has me prescribed for anxiety medication for the last 5 years. Have a friend who runs two mental health clinics and he keeps telling me to come in and he would have me collecting in a few months. And even if I did have a problem I have the money to hire the best disability lawyer. In true FW fashion aren't I nutts not to go for the free money?

My wife qualifies (Cerebral Palsy) for disability but she chooses to work (Ultrasound Technician). We are being over run by those that choose not to provide societal value and don't deserve to participate in society with the rest of us. I envision a government employment system for those that receive benefits. The first goal would be re-education back into the private sector. Following that if you can't work physically (either privately or for the government) the government could subcontract someone that has physical limitation out to a call center, such as Dell. The government would provide the very minimum in life quality, no food stamps, but a baskets of goods that you will be show how to turn into a delicious healthy meals. It is too lucrative to live on the government dole. I understand that this type of system is not ideal but I think it would be better than our current setup. The government is getting nothing back from these government lifers. I do understand some are truly not able to provide societal value and I am not speaking of those individuals. I have three personal experiences with those that choose to live on the government dole through their own actions or in-actions.

In this thread: people making judgments about the entire welfare system based on a few anecdotes.

buckeye17 said:   In this thread: people making judgments about the entire welfare system based on a few anecdotes.
I'm pretty sure I was making my judgments based on national statistics and trends. Read the above articles i linked if you haven't been paying attention, but the welfare state has been massively expanding in recent years.

OliverQuackenbush said:   I'm not sure what makes me more sad, the fact that jobs are disappearing due to technology...
or people's inability to grasp the nature of the new economy, thinking that there is plenty of manual labor that needs to be done in this mechanized age and that anyone who wants a job can easily get one.
or what appears to be people's cruel almost sociopathic spirit, almost as if we are glad the situation is as it is, so we can have an excuse to hate our neighbors and peers.
the people who are sick aren't the ones not working and receiving disability. its the type posting in this thread who seem to love to hate their fellow man.
shame on you idiots.


One man's righteousness is another man's misanthropy.

If they take public money they should be able to be looked up in a public database.

SSI is a joke..After fighting cancer for the past 10 years.. 8 operations.. and countless days in the hospital .. still today i spend atleast a week a month in the hospital.. I cant get help of any kind. " my husband makes to much".. thats a joke!

Skipping 113 Messages...
stat9 said:   A few years ago someone said to me, "I see why people claim disability because they get health care too." I said something to the effect that they are losers. Fast forward to this year and that very person worked the system with a "back injury". He is getting a nice check due to paying into the system. He is 44 and is officially retired and I am expected to work another 30 years to pay for it.

A co-worker knew he was about to get fired and unfortunately hurt his back while traveling(yeah right). His whole family is on disability so he had access to the doctors and lawyers that could get it done. The guy was under 40, 100% faking it, and everyone knew it. My company hired a private investigator and of course the guy was sporting a back brace and the whole nine yards. He is now an early retiree via fake disability.

A manual labor temp. worker told me that his former government working 35 year old girlfriend was considered disabled due to back pain and didn't have to work anymore. She was bored and wanted to go back to work but he he convinced her to keep taking the sure thing. He said all of the temps. knew which lawyers and doctors could get it done. He said he was going that route eventually.

These are just a few of my experiences with the disability scam. It is painful how easy the scam is and nobody cares. It is out of control but don't you dare take the money away from the "disabled".


It's not out of control. The gov't just denies more legit disability claims from those who lack enough savvy to manipulate the system (usually people with bad genes....aka people with actual disabilities). This is likely done intentionally to kill off the truly disabled, as their horrendous medical needs are too burdensome for society.

Perversely, we're much better off (financially) entertaining the pretend disabled and rejecting the sincerely disabled.



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