(This is an article that was written in conjunction with another blog entry I wrote called, “Welfare is sucking this country dry!” Link: http://wp.me/p2B4s2-3Z)
Some people believe that it is easy to get on Social Security Disability and that you can get disability benefits for any old reason. I work with folks on Social Security Disability everyday. I know their stories and how they came to receive that assistance each month. The system is not as some suppose.
Social Security Disability is determined on one primary issue. Can the individual be gainfully employed? Can they work enough in any capacity to support themselves? The applicants physical health and/or mental health symptoms are examined in light of how significantly they interfere with the applicant’s ability to work. The standard of impediment and proof are high.
Until the last few years, applying for Social Security Disability was a long, frustrating process. Each application would take up to two years to be decided. Even then, many people were denied and would have to start the process over again. Some people, deserving of disability benefits, would spend three, four, five plus years trying to get their application approve.
Some conclude that if they were denied that they were not deserving of disability benefits. That was often not the case. The way the system works is that decisions are based on the information given. If information is missing, the case worker does not ask for it. He or she simply makes a decision based on the information they have. If corroboration is lacking, then the application receives a denial. Therefore, many people who might have been granted disability benefits, did not get them because those making the decisions did not have all the information they needed to grant an approval.
A few years ago, a new program/approach came into existence to help folks with a severe and persistent mental illness in the disability application process. It is called the SOAR program. People were trained to take a unique approach to helping folks applying for Social Security Disability. The new approach helped to ensure two things. One, that the folks making the decisions had all the information. Two, that they had that information as early in the process as possible.
With the SOAR program approach, the approval rating more than doubled! The SOAR approach was a tremendous help to those applying for disability. Additionally, the time frame was reduced from one to two years to under six months.
Many people proudly post that there should be drug testing for those on welfare. I don’t disagree with this in theory. I just bristle against the compassionlessness with which some people say it! It reminds me of a line by Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Two men come in to Scrooge’s place of business. They ask Scrooge if he is willing to help them raise a fund to help the poor. Scrooge responds that he pays his taxes that help the poor. (This includes such institutions of the day as: the workhouses, orphanages, etc.) The two men comment that many would rather die than go to such horrible, government-funded institutions. To which Scrooge responds: “If they’d rather die then perhaps they had better do so and decrease the surplus population.” and he angrily dismisses them. I sometimes see hints of such callousness in folks advocating drug testing for those on welfare.
One additional note about drug use and Social Security Disability. Illicit drug use in the life of an applicant can be (and often is) a significant deterrent to the applicant being granted disability. Point, illicit drug use ALREADY IS a road block for being granted Social Security Disability.
In my experience, one reason many are critical of those on Social Security Disability is because they don’t know anyone who is ON Social Security Disability. Therefore, in the absence of any direct experience on the issue, they simply espouse the opinions they hear from others. When it is common that people do not check bias against fact…that bias is easily spread.