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May 10, 2012

Fairies And Unicorns Are Real And Every Disabled Person Can Work

     The Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB) has met with  Christy Dunaway, an official of the Southeast Americans with Disabilities Act Center to talk about Social Security's disability programs, particularly work incentives. Here's a key quote from Dunaway:
One fundamental core value and belief underlies our comments today: All people of working age with disabilities can work if they have access to appropriate education, training, and vital supports such as technology assistance, transportation, and personal assistance services.
     This is absolute rubbish. It comes from a woman who tells us that she is disabled. In Social Security terms, she is not a bit disabled since she has regular employment. Impaired yes, but disabled no. She has no business trying to speak for a group of people whom she does not represent and whom she does not begin to understand. All the things that Dunaway say make it possible for anyone to work regardless of their disabilities are irrelevant to the vast majority of Social Security disability recipients. None of that matters if you are suffering from severe pain or devastating mental illness or are older and have a severe, chronic degenerative diseases. Would she really repeat the statement she made to a real, live person dying of cancer?
     People like Dunaway are a positive menace to truly disabled people. They are the reason we have politicians who are confused and dismayed that Social Security disability recipients fail to return to work. Dunaway and her ilk are mostly interested in federal grants to allow them to serve a tiny sliver of the handicapped community, most of whom are in wheelchairs. We have to make policy based upon the reality of who is drawing Social Security disability benefits and that's someone other than Dunaway and those few people whom she thinks are representative of the disabled population of this country.


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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    From my experience,i beleive her arguement would turn on regular employment.

    6:53 AM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I keep seeing a quote pop up on twitter: "the only disability in life is a bad attitude." Maybe this is one of her quotes.

    7:20 AM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "She has no business trying to speak for a group of people whom she does not represent and whom she does not begin to understand."

    So by a similar standard, you can't truly be representing people with disabilities either.

    9:48 AM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Folks advocating for ADA implementation have to push for a "sky's the limit" scenario, in which all that stands between disabled people and work are employers' lack of accommodations. That's a great position to take from a zealous advocacy standpoint, but not a real world one. And yes, the accommodations contemplated by folks like this are mainly physical accommodations, easy to do. Are you likewise going to push the business community to accommodate, for example, problematic behaviors of a person with schizophrenia? One who is paranoid of her co-workers and supervisors and refuses to interact with them? I don't think so, the advocacy groups would lose a lot of credibility there.

    10:47 AM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I believe a large part of the professional disability community leadership does not understand how degenerative disease, aging, fatigue and terminal illness works to drain the ability to live and work with any kind of quality.

    If your disability is stable, does not lead to more disabilities, does not get worse with age, is not affected by lack of family support, does not involve profound fatigue and does not keep you at the doctors a lot -- then sure those left could work in a perfect work situation.

    That leadership pushed and designed Ticket To Work as the answer to all our prayers. When disabled people got trapped in social security rules that showed no internal understanding of TTW, that same leadership was not available to help rescue their canaries testing that program.

    I myself almost died while I was being investigated for misusing TTW when I had actually followed all the rules. That was while I suddenly had no Medicare and no check --something they say they won't take during TTW investigations -- but they actually do.

    11:03 AM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Her quote was unrealistic hyperbole and ditto to Charles' critique. However, some of the other stuff she advocated for in the linked article would be good for those on benefits who could actually do some work with appropriate supports and accommodations. Uppling the income and resource limits for them, and actually allowing them to save more than $2K/$3K for a rainy day would be a start.

    SSA does need to realize that the percentage of SSD/SSI beneficiaries who are employable with supports is smaller than it appears to believe. Focusing on that small group with simpler and better work incentives would be an improvement on the current system.

    1:48 PM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Your critique is unduly harsh. There are some people who are temporarily disabled but remain on the rolls for a long time, even after their impairments are no longer severe. There are some people who are permanently disabled according to the rules but can work some and would like to work with the right supports. Work is meaningful to many people, and disabled people should be able to work without immediately losing benefits and access to healthcare. Public policy in this area should not be only about handing out checks but should be about offering the supports that the disabled community needs to fully participate in and contribute to society. You are correct that the disabled community is not monolithic and assuming that all can work with the right supports,training, transportation and personal assistance is wrong. We all know that some disabled are terminally ill and not ever going to be rehabilitated or rejoin the workforce. But for some disabled folks, work incentives and supports can be the very thing that they need to realize their true capabilities.

    8:27 PM, May 10, 2012  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Some people with disabilities would struggle with employment to the point of termination.

    6:46 AM, May 11, 2012  

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