Good News

June 5, 2013

On May 31, the Associated Press reported that Medicare looks a little better and Social Security doesn’t look any worse. The Medicare inpatient care fund should last until 2026, two years longer than previously estimated, and Social Security will be solvent until 2033, as predicted last year.

About 8.8 million adults receive disability payments. Factor in their children, and you’ve got nearly 11 million U.S. residents relying on this program, which according to Nolo.com averages $700 to $1,400 per month.

In the very near future these payments could be reduced by one-fifth. Why isn’t this considered a crisis?

Several reasons come to mind: 

The disabled population is relatively small. Currently, 40 million retirees receive Social Security and that number is rising fast — every day, 10,000 people turn 65.

The elderly are better organized. Simply put, baby boomers vote and the AARP is a pretty fierce lobbyist. By contrast, plenty of disabled people spend most of their time and energy dealing with the ramifications of their health issues, getting medical care, and navigating insurance and social service bureaucracies. 

Misperceptions are pervasive. Everybody seems to know a guy whose “bad back” keeps him from working but doesn’t interfere with his gardening, remodeling or dancing. When MSN Money ran an article called “Is America the land of opportunity — or the land of disability?,” plenty of the 740 commenters railed about laziness and “playing the system.”

No doubt those people exist, and shame on them. But according to the nonprofit National Academy of Social Insurance, many recipients have multiple and/or life-threatening conditions. About 1 in 5 one in five men and nearly one in six women die within five years of being approved for the payments.

Reducing the payments that our citizens need to survive and largely put back into their local economies would do these individuals a disservice and is a breach of the implied promise that the payment of Social Security taxes conveys.

 

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