Mar 10, 2015

Hit Piece In The WSJ

     The Wall Street Journal has an op ed piece titled "Disability Claim Denied? Find The Right Judge." It's behind a pay wall. I'll just extract a few phrases and sentences to give readers the flavor of the piece:
  • "morphed into a benefit bonanza that costs taxpayers billions of dollars more than it should"
  • "judicial impartiality has declined significantly"
  • "Congress should also institute 15-year term limits for judges"
  • "Congress can limit this gamesmanship by allowing only one application per claimant in a three-year period."
  • "Decades ago workers ages 50 or 55 might have been considered retiring, but this is no longer generally the case. Novel job-training programs also make it easier than ever for workers to move into new fields and make up for low levels of education, and new disability criteria would account for these changes."  
     Michael Hiltzik takes down some of the nonsense in this piece but there's so much more. I'll limit myself to one sentence in the piece. What are these "novel job-training programs" that make it easier for handicapped people to move into different fields? I have no idea what he's talking about. Older people are less adaptable. That's just a fact of human existence. There's no program, old or new, that can change that. Making up for low levels of education? Adult basic education has been around for a very long time for those who are able to take advantage of it. The problem, however, is that the most common reason for people having low educational attainments is that they have limited cognitive abilities. That's an unpleasant truth that both liberals and conservatives prefer not to talk about. Sure, the limited cognitive abilities often have their genesis in childhood poverty but limited cognitive abilities are largely irreparable regardless of their cause. I'd be happy to substitute IQ tests for educational attainments in disability determination.


Anonymous said...

A shameful attack on the program and the disabled.

Anonymous said...

You have to remember that nearly 16% of the population is in the BIF or lower range for intellectual functioning (simple enough to calculate yourself knowing that mean IQ is 100 and the standard deviation is 15).

While there are ample examples of highly functioning people in that range, the average person with an IQ in that range just simply can't learn/do a lot of things. 16% isn't a trivial figure. And that's just intellectual functioning.

There are lots of people debilitated by mental illness, physical impairments, and combinations of those and other limiting factors. There's only so much unskilled, sedentary, socially-isolated, etc. work available for people who could only do a very narrow range of work (if they could work at all).

If you could get out of bed and go off to a competitive job all on your own today (that you have and can keep for a sustained period) and read and understand what I just wrote, then congratulations--you're in a club that is a lot more exclusive than you might think.

Anonymous said...

"Congress can limit this gamesmanship by allowing only one application per claimant in a three-year period"

Claimants with legitimate conditions get denied when their credible evidence support more than one conclusion. And SSA clearly has the upper hand or regulatory authority to choose an award or denial. That alone should entitle a claimant to more than one application. Although res judica also hinder legitimate claims.

I'm a former claimant.

Anonymous said...

"term limits for judges"--apparently the WSJ is not aware that ALJ's are not actual "judges" but glorified administrators. They do not get appointed to "terms".

Anonymous said...

How disingenuous of the WSJ to say the alj approval rate is near 70% in 2008 while not mentioning it is closer to 45% now. No mention that the numbers of people on disability has leveled off and may be declining. It is just not a credible article and the authors should be embarassed. Makes me wonder why they seem to dislike disabled folks who are on hard times so much.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that Michael Hitzik is one of the most credible journalists writing on Social Security Disability issues today. He's remarkably good at recognizing the baloney like that in the most recent WSJ article, and he's not afraid to point it out.

As for the authors of the WSJ article, congratulations. You have blown your academic and journalistic credibility in your attempt to make political points and mislead the American public on this issue. Amongst those in the know on disability issues, you are now a joke and will not be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

This was predicted to happen when Rupert Murdock bought the WSJ. I suppose that paper still has some credibility when writing about financial investments, but when reporting about disability, it has the same journalistic credibility as Faux News.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 3:05 is so wrong. Between 2-3% of the population are BIF..

Anonymous said...

I said BIF or lower.

Knowing that BIF is defined as an IQ of 85, that mean IQ is 100, and that standard deviation is 15, it's quite a simple statistical exercise to prove my statement as true. I'll give you a hint--it involves finding the z score. I'm not going to even bother to show the math here since any child could go to google, plug in those parameters, and find that 85 corresponds to around the 15th percentile, which means 15 percent of IQs are lower--i.e., that about 15 percent of the population is BIF or lower.

But thanks for playing!

Anonymous said...

WSJ article is a joke. Good job from Hiltzik to expose this garbage.

Out here in California, did not know only 2-3% are on disability. Thought it was more. Guess California is just a huge state.

WSJ is a joke.