A reader writes:
Thought this might be of interest to you. It’s a pretty good demonstration of how even when the government does “care” for the poor, it does so in the worst, most expensive, and degrading way. It sweeps them under the carpet and gives huge incentives against them improving their lives, while at the same time creating a huge burden on the normal workers.
Here is the long FB post I made:
I was listening to This American Life while cycling to school this morning and they had a fascinating episode playing. It’s long form 6 month investigation into America’s Social Security Disability system, and the its incredible increase in the past 20 years.
This is well done journalism at it’s best, definitely worth a listen or a read. The audio podcast is here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/490/trends-with-benefits
And the long form written article is here: http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/
Summary with statistics:
The number of Americans on disability has doubled in the past twenty years, up to now 14 million. This costs about $124,000,000,000 per year.
In large part this has happened because people have been moving from welfare to disability. Not only does disability have no end date, but the states also have a very strong interest in this, because disability is entirely federally funded. There are firms hired by states to comb welfare lists and move people from there onto disability, they’re paid about $2300 per person moved. Also people on disability are hidden from all employment figures.
There is no legal definition of disability, now is there a representative on behalf of the government at disability hearings.
Less than 1% of people ever move off of disability It provides no job training or rehabilitation, and is not meant to help people recover or get back on their feet. They become dependent on the government for the rest of their lives, and are at the same time condemned to poverty. And free healthcare.
There have sprung up a huge crop of lawyers and law firms whose sole job is to get people onto disability. For this they are paid 25% of the SS disability backpayments when their clients wins, in a check directly from the government.
Finally, the number of kids on disability has skyrocketed in the past 20 years. In an excellent conclusion to the article, Chana Joffe-Walt writes:
“I haven’t taken a survey or anything, but I’m guessing a large majority of Americans would be in favor of some form of government support for disabled children living in poverty. We would have a hard time agreeing on exactly how we want to offer support, but I think there are some basic things we’d all agree on.
Kids should be encouraged to go to school. Kids should want to do well in school. Parents should want their kids to do well in school. Kids should be confident their parents can provide for them regardless of how they do in school. Kids should become more and more independent as they grow older and hopefully be able to support themselves at around age 18.
The disability program stands in opposition to every one of these aims.”
I suspect this is the beginning of a journalism trend, as when I got to school Liz linked me a related article by The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/disability-insurance-americas-124-billion-secret-welfare-program/274302/