Apr 23, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake!

    I see posts from one or more people on this blog saying that it's obvious that Social Security should be approving fewer disability claims since there's so many more sedentary office jobs now than there used to be. I think those who make these posts need to answer an important question. Why do people work at low wage, physically demanding jobs instead of higher paying, sedentary office jobs? To me, the answer to the question is obvious. They can't do the higher paying, sedentary office jobs! If you work in an office this may sounds nuts. Of course, anyone can work in an office. It's not that hard. Really? You may not be giving yourself enough credit. It takes at least a modest degree of intelligence as well as at least a moderate degree of social ability and mental stamina to work in an office. Not everyone has those characteristics. A high percentage of disability claims are filed by people who have the misfortune of having a borderline or low average IQ or who have chronic psychiatric problems. Those folks end up working in low paying, physically demanding jobs because they have no choice. Really, why else would anyone work in such employment if they could find an easier job that pays more? In high school, you didn't hang out with the people with low IQs or chronic psychiatric problems. They were almost invisible to you then and they still are but they exist in large numbers. It doesn't take much to disable them because they never had much to offer an employer other than a strong back and a willingness to work. The whole idea that you can take a person off the factory floor and put them in an office job is, for the most part, a "Let them eat cake" solution to disability.  And, no technological changes in manufacturing and in offices haven't helped. The technological changes have increased the cognitive demands of factory work leaving those with low IQs at a greater disadvantage.And, please, don't tell me that because infants can make iPhones do amazing things that anyone can work. That's just ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

So just give them money because they're too stupid? Is that your message?

Anonymous said...

You make some good points - it's illogical to assume that people are capable of doing jobs simply because those jobs are available in greater numbers. It's also ridiculous to use anecdotal evidence of people with smartphones as proof that most of the population is now qualified for skilled work.

At the same time, you are also painting with too broad a brush. It's not reasonable to presume that everyone doing unskilled work either has psychiatric problems or lacks the intelligence to do office work.

First, I disagree with the baseline assumption that physically-demanding jobs pay lower wages than sedentary office jobs.

Second, employment choices (to the extent that there is a choice) are often driven by geographic considerations, not functional limitations. If a particular type of job isn't available very close to home, many people will take whatever is available rather than picking up roots. For better or worse, the disability standard does not depend on geographic preferences.

Third, I think some commenters might have a problem with the general policy that people are not expected to do more complex jobs than they have actually performed. There appears to be a presumption that past work reflects the highest skill level that an individual is capable of performing. In other words, if you chose to work on a union assembly line for years and then apply for disability at 55 with an RFC for light work or less, SSA will presume that you can't adjust to an office job. There may be legitimate vocational reasons for this, but they're not immediately clear. "Employers don't hire and train old people" seems like an unsatisfactory answer to a complex question.

Anonymous said...

a commenter nailed the answer to my question about skills on that previous thread. Job skills, as they correctly pointed out, are learned, not innate. So in that respect it makes sense that SSA only puts folks to unskilled work, since the program doesn't put people in to work they can't currently perform. But I have a few issues with that notion and how it squares with two aspects of the program.

First, a lot of people that begin a semiskilled or skilled position do not already possess the job skills necessary for the job. Sure, lots of folks get certifications, degrees, licenses, etc. that provide many or all of those skills, but a great many people learn the skills on the job. Why are people never required to acquire job skills on the job? I know, I know, employers are in fact getting much more demanding about having public schools, colleges, etc. (anyone but them) provide (i.e., pay) the workforce with these skills, making it much less likely someone without those skills could get hired for the job. But it doesn't make much sense to me considering the second issue I see:

According to SSA disability program, if one does not have a physical impairment, one is necessarily able to perform medium and even heavy exertion. So you mean to tell me a 54-year-old woman standing 5'1" and weighing a buck o' five sopping wet can perform medium or heavy exertion if she has no severe physical impairment? But that same woman, let's say she has an IQ north of 130 and no mental impairments, is never expected to pick up a job skill?

I get that skills are learned, but isn't strength? It's strange to me that physical and mental ability defaults are treated completely differently by SSA here--with mental job skills, SSA assumes nobody has them and cannot get them. With physical ability, unless you show you have a limiting impairment, you are assumed to be able to perform heavy exertion.

It's just very odd to me the near-opposite default treatment of physical vs. mental.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
So just give them money because they're too stupid? Is that your message?

7:19 AM, April 23, 2015

Really, bro? Do you think these people want to live in poverty instead of working? Because living on disability is living in poverty. Look at what your disability payment will be -- it's not what most workers will get. The typical disabled individual earned minimum wage, maybe a couple bucks more per hour. Their disability payment is probably around $900-$1,100 a month. Go live on that.

So you're indirectly saying, "We shouldn't "pay" these because they're stupid." What? What's the alternative in your opinion? Don't give them money, let them rely on handouts from family, your church, and beg on your street? Go hungry? Just die? Get into crime until they're imprisoned and cost $2,000 per month to the taxpayers to keep them incarcerated?

No, the guy that changes your tires, bags your groceries, flips your burgers, cleans your office, welded the parts on your car, cuts your grass, has a steep uphill battle to prove disability. He would rather work. And he is not stupid, as you define it. He is not lazy. He probably worked more physical jobs than you did.

I hear comments like yours all the time. Usually they're coming from someone who grew up privileged. Some how they think they "earned" their status. Bro, it was given to you, you just showed up. Don't be greedy.

Anonymous said...

Could not agree more with 7:19.

This "so just give 'em money" crap shows the lack of cerebral capacity required for understanding individuals who pay into a system until their '50s, and then applying for disability due a medically determined impairment. If they are found disabled, the money they receive is part of the promise SSA disability involves.

I used to work for the agency and there was always someone who felt they were self appointed to distribute tax dollars. But this lack of perspective is wide spread and tiresome.

Anonymous said...

I find the commenters that make such absurd statements have little or no problem with a friend or relative that ends up on disability because "they deserve it". The mythical "them" is hated, the boogey man/woman that is "taking all my money" to live on the dole.

Why is the enemy in the war given a nickname? To dehumanize, to make them easier to ridicule, to make them less than you. If you can convince yourself the system is just paying everyone that applies because they dont want to work you can hate the group you want to hate but have some kind of self justification.

Those in favor of benefits are often those that work within the system or with Claimants. Those opposed to benefits are generally not working with disabled individuals.

Everyone seems to walk up hill to work 40 miles and has to kill a grizzly bear with the coffee cup they carry. Is there some fraud in the system, certainly, as certainly as we all want the best deal on a car, want to get over on a deal and make more money. The keyboard allows you to say things you would never say in person.

Anonymous said...

Giving people the means to live in poverty is a former of control, not freedom.

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Anonymous said...

*form, my mistake

Lindav said...

The unfairness is not that between a lawyer and someone who has done heavy work all his life. It is that between a truck driver who can retire at 55 and a chicken factory worker with the same conditions who has to work until 66.

Anonymous said...

Charles, your assertions border on crazy. Just because someone works at a laborious job and not in an office doesn't mean they can't do the easier job.

There are lots of people working at jobs that would like easier jobs...they just can't get them.