6 Disability Myths to Share with Friends

By Olivia LaRosa, a severely disabled person

April 5, 2015

1. We need to cut Social Security Disability Insurance payments to stop freeloaders.

According to one dubious article from the Atlantic, the disabled should just stop whining and go back to work. This dubious article is summarized at a website called the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

It’s time to repair, not just cut, SSDI

Written by ______. Whoever it is doesn’t have even a basic grasp of the disability system. SSDI is a payment that people who have worked for more than 10 quarters may receive for severe or terminal disabilities. SSI is payment to those who have not worked but are disabled. It is much lower payment than SSDI. Neither one of them “pay” as a pink-or-blue-collar job might. In other words there are no incentives to receiving these awards. Rather, they are usually the difference between life and death.

2. People who get SSDI payments become dependent upon them and don’t go back to work. 

By definition, to be disabled is “too sick to work in any job offered in the national job market for x hours per week.” Furthermore, because of mean-spirited meddling by right-wing tax nuts, if your severe-or-terminal disability does not show up during the first two years that you can’t work, you don’t get SSDI even though you have paid into it and have earned it.

3. People who get disability payments have it made.

If you get SSDI, you can afford to rent a room in someone else’s house and buy groceries. If you have not become disabled within two years of your last working quarter, you get nearly bupkis. Instead, you get SSI (Social Security Disability) if you are lucky, which simply isn’t enough to rent a room in a house.

By definition, we are so sick that it is highly unlikely that we will EVER be able to hold any job in the national job market. So of course not too many of us return to our cushy jobs as hamburger flippers. Most of us are too sick to work to augment our meager benefits. Life becomes ever more difficult. Being poor is a full-time job. Being poor and sick takes up as much time as two full-time jobs.

4. Only the truly disabled should get assistance.

All of these “Cut Disability” articles state that they are FOR people who are really disabled getting assistance. If so, why do they think that cutting SSDI or SSI will help? Most of these articles say that private charity will fill the gap. If so, why aren’t I being supported by these charities?

5. People who get disability payments get free stuff.

Yes, I got free stuff. Two-and-a-half years after I was found disabled, I got Medi-Cal medical coverage from the state of California. I was not seen by Medi-Cal personnel until more than 3 years had passed after my disability date. I told them what was wrong with me and they did little more than prescribe some of the medicines I needed.

I kept telling them that if I did not get help soon for my disabilities that I would become bed-bound. Three and a half years after I was found disabled, I was at the Emergency Room at the County Hospital with Level 10 pain in my back and hips.

I was in bed for six months before my back illness was diagnosed. Four years after I was found disabled, I got the MRI that confirmed I had lumbar stenosis with severe neurogenic claudication. Lumbar stenosis is Latin for “this thing hurts like a sumbeach.” So, that was the free stuff I got before I qualified for Medicare in May 2014, seven years after the time that I became too sick to work outside the home.

6. Disabled people cannot work without losing their benefits. 

Completely untrue. The Social Security Disability Administration has programs such as “Ticket to Work,” which allows some of us to work part-time or even full time while keeping our medical benefits. Eventually, many people who are helped by these programs return to full-time work.

We have the tools in place. All we have to do is pay for them. Let’s fund these programs and help people out of dependency instead of slashing budgets.

I will tell people about my other disabilities in another article. When you hear of them you will wonder why I am not getting the help I need to survive.




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