Friday, May 31, 2013

People Who Use the Economy as an Excuse to Exploit the Disability System

People Who Use the Economy as an Excuse to Exploit the Disability System

I find it telling that nearly every person I know has one family member, friend or acquaintance that has learned to exploit the disability system to avoid work.  The prevalence of such antics increases exponentially when the economy is struggling and people can earn more sitting at home watching TV than going to work.  These fraudsters make it more difficult for those that are truly disabled from working because of catastrophic injury, congenital disabilities, insidious disease or birth defects.

Unfortunately, the bleeding hearts and our broken litigation system create an atmosphere where it is relatively easy for clever individuals to act as leeches and such the blood and money from those honest, hardworking souls that believe in playing by the rules.  Those who proffer the view that expanding the safety net is necessary will argue that the disabled are exploited and paid less than able bodied workers. But the critical question is what constitutes a disability in America.

The Americans With Disabilities Act was well -intended legislation that attempted to create a level playing field for those with disabilities. However, the definition of what qualifies a person as having a disability is ever morphing.

Objective vocational experts can verify that many people deemed disabled can, in fact, work at sedentary jobs and can provide data to show what specific jobs a person with a particular background can perform and at what salary ranges. But all it takes for a person to be labeled disabled from work for Social Security Disability is a physician to certify that a person can’t work because of a particular condition or injury. The most exploited condition that I have seen is the emotional or psychological trauma from alleged post-traumatic stress syndrome. Really, unless someone has been in a war zone, survived 9/11, was at the Boston Marathon bombings, experienced a plane crash or watched a spouse or child die from a freak accident, PTSD is not likely. I’ve seen people go on disability because of PTSD after falling down some stairs or out of a chair. PLEASE!

I agree that not everyone has the same capacity for dealing with pain or adversity and that some individuals have greater motivation than others. But I personally know amazing people that continue to work while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, treatment for chronic illnesses such as lupus, return to work within 6-8 weeks after open heart surgery or a discectomy or hip replacement surgery.

It is time to re-evaluate the disability system. Many people have pain, emotional trauma, job set backs, accidents, and yes, disabilities, and yet get up everyday, head to a job and contribute to society.  And a weak economy shouldn’t be an excuse for increasing the disability rolls as an alternative for Welfare. These programs should be last resorts – not a right.

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