Let’s Stop Believing the Myth That SSD is a Welfare Program
March 14th, 2018 by Attorney John Colvin
When you’ve worked for most of your life and you reach retirement age, you should be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits. Social Security is a program workers fund through payroll deductions, so benefits are not a “handout.”
Social Security Disability works in the same way – you pay into it when you’re employed. Yet, some people wrongly think SSD benefits are welfare – that people with disabilities are receiving “easy money.” Anyone who’s receiving SSD knows that it’s a struggle just to get through the benefits application process, and when that first check arrives months or years after suffering a disability, it’s far less than what someone needs to live comfortably.
A Lack of Understanding
In Tennessee, West Virginia, and other Appalachian regions, the percentage of people receiving SSD is much higher than in other parts of the country. Critics of the SSD program tend to think people who live in those areas are lazy, or that the doctors who treat them are certifying non-existent disabilities. That mindset illustrates a deep misunderstanding of what’s really happening.
As explained in an investigative piece on SSD, Vox magazine noted that in many Appalachian counties, workers don’t have a high school education. Educational attainment has a strong correlation with health – people with advanced college degrees are much less likely to need disability benefits. That’s because their professions aren’t as strenuous as “blue collar” jobs like mining, construction, or manufacturing.
People who don’t have a high school education also tend to be poor. In many Appalachian communities, teens drop out of high school to work, so they can help support their family. In turn, they are sacrificing their own future career possibilities. This cycle repeats generation after generation, leading to a greater number of people needing disability benefits.
It’s an insult to say that people on SSD are lazy. Many people receiving benefits have worked since they were children, in jobs that are extremely hard on the body.
In some rural areas of Tennessee and Appalachia, job opportunities are scarce. If you work in a mine and suffer a back injury that prevents you from working, you won’t be able to go work in an office. Instead of blaming people with disabilities for not working, lawmakers and government agencies could be doing more to provide support to these underserved areas of the country.
The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program has taken a pro-active approach to helping people in its poorest counties – it retrains miners to work in occupations like healthcare and customer service, giving them new job opportunities.
What People Want
With few exceptions, most people want to be self-sufficient. They want to go to work, earn a paycheck, and be able to live a comfortable life. Suffering a serious disability can make all of those goals impossible.
No one can receive SSD without extensive proof that their disability prevents them from working. And even when they have that proof, the Social Security Administration may deny their claim. People who can’t work and have a major illness or disability then have two choices: give up on benefits or start the appeals process, which can drag on for years.
SSD is not welfare. And SSD beneficiaries aren’t living in luxury. It’s time to stop believing those myths
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has helped people throughout Tennessee and Alabama get the disability benefits they deserve. For over 20 years, he has been helping people put their lives back on track, and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call 1-931-962-1044 or submit our online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.