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May 7, 2012

The Attack Pieces Continue

     Here's a Reuters piece attacking the Social Security disability programs as being in part disguised unemployment.  Here are a few excerpts, with some comments by me in brackets and bolded:
  • ... Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said over time, disability will rob roughly $250 billion - or 1.6 percent - from total output each year once the economy returns to full employment, probably within the next five to seven years. This will also widen the budget deficit.
  • Duggan and other economists say the major change in the growth rate stems from a series of reforms in the mid-1980s, which changed the focus of screening from medical criteria to working ability. [The golden age that Duggan longs for was actually a brief, bizarre period of extreme harshness that was extraordinarily unpopular and quickly abandoned.]
  • "They are not encouraged to go back to work. [Actually, there are encouragement galore to return to work. You just don't know what you're talking about] I have gone to multiple meetings on a program called 'Ticket to Work' and there were only five people who showed up," she said. [The article is so poorly written that I cannot figure out who "she" is. The bigger problem, though, is "she" doesn't consider the possibility that the reason why so few people show up for Ticket to Work is that there are so few people drawing Social Security disability with a potential to return to work.]
  • If people do return to work, they could lose benefits such as health insurance, which further discourages some from looking, said Richard Johnson, Director of the Program on Retirement Policy at The Urban Institute in Washington.[No, actually, they are allowed to continue to receive Medicare for a very long time after going back to work. Why is Johnson giving interviews about something he doesn't understand?]
  • "If you provide incentives to people to go back to work, they do that," Barry Lundquist, President of The Council for Disability Awareness, a non-profit organization which advises disabled workers.[Lundquist advises disabled workers but doesn't know about the abundant work incentives that already exist? Maybe, they don't go back to work despite the incentives because the definition of disability used by Social Security assures that they're just too sick.]
     The drumbeat of articles along this long don't happen by accident. They are promoted by some entity or entities. The same ill-informed people keep getting quoted again and again. At least, they seem very concerned that work incentives be added to the Social Security disability programs. Adding another work incentive to the long list of work incentives that already exist would mostly be harmless.


Anonymous said...

For decades the rate of sucessful return to work was about 1/2 of 1%.
I doubt the work incentives have dramatically improved on that.It would be worthwhile to see who did benefit, maximus, vocational rehab agencies and some employees within the agency itself. What is needed is a dramatic simplification of existing incentives.

Anonymous said...

the work incentives are a joke. most employees, including myself do not really understand them. employees are not trained to understand them. the agency does not really care and i do not know why it would care if people return to work. we are swamped with cases and do not have the time to take out and explain work incentives to claimants. the vast majority of claimants i encounter do not want to return to work and some consider it rude if you ask them if they want to return to work.

the only way to fix this mess is to tighten eligibility standards somewhat, not to arcane levels but tougher than now. Work incentives should be simplified and promoted more often. This will improve the situation.

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with A 6:42. The work incentives are so convoluted that no one has ever really understood them. Most "work incentive coordinators" (which used to be an actual position, and maybe still is) couldn't navigate them, either, in my experience.

Why not just make the work incentives for DIB benes the same as the retirement test? Get rid of the sheltered workshop, IRWEs, TWP, the whole lot. Establish an annual earnings limit and make deductions a la the pre-FRA rules we have now. Get rid of the separate rules for blind people (which have always been too favorable for that class of people) and simplify the system.

The current system, like a lot of what SSA does, is cumbersome and inefficient. In an age of dwindling resources, it's not worth administering anymore, if it ever was.