May 9, 2017

Why Disability Benefits Are Especially Important Fro Less-Educated Workers

     The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has a report up on 4 Reasons Why Disability Insurance Is Especially Important to Less-Educated Workers.
     Let me be less diplomatic than the folks at CBPP. Less-educated workers are frequently people with lower cognitive abilities. We do not live in Lake Woebegone. All the children are not above average. Some are born with lower cognitive abilities. The cognitive abilities of others are permanently stunted by difficult childhood circumstances. Lower cognitive abilities lead to lower educational achievements. Adult education is of only limited use for people with low cognitive abilities. They lack the ability to profit from it. People with lower cognitive ability are at a huge disadvantage when they develop medical or psychiatric problems. All they are suited to do is to work at jobs with low skill requirements and those jobs aren't in offices. Those jobs generally involve significant exertional requirements and offer limited tolerance for psychiatric issues. If all you ever had to offer an employer was a strong back and a good attitude you're in big trouble if your back loses its strength or your good attitude isn't so good.


Anonymous said...

While I knew there was a disparity I didn't realize it was that great.

Anonymous said...

Great point.

At a certain age a vast majority of these people lose their ability to function in any workplace setting.

The stigma of the psychiatric problems accentuate as age increases,so most people may not understand or comprehend the level of loneliness and pain others live with.


Anonymous said...

My practice area includes Flint, MI. I can only imagine the legacy that the lead water will leave the children of Flint as they get older and try to enter the workforce. The unemployment level in that area is already high. Add the anticipated cognitive declines from the lead exposure, many of those children are facing high odds. Many will likely end up on disability.

Anonymous said...

A few of other points from the chart. It appears less than 10% of those receiving benefits in 2010 were under 50 years old.

While the numbers without a high school education are greater than any other breakdown at any age, it appears that roughly half of all those receiving benefits at any age have less than a high school education.

Finally, when you compare this to the percentage of people in the US without a high school education, only about 10%, it becomes obvious that there is a strong relationship between lack of education and likelihood of being found disabled.

Tim said...

8:15 AM That strong relationship exists because that's how the grids are setup! As you reach (or near milestone dates: 50,55,60.), it becomes easier to qualify. It's much easier for a 50 year-old without a high school diploma or GED to qualify than a 60 year-old with a college degree. Add in inability to speak English and it's even easier. Therefore, not having a college degree or high school makes you "More likely to be found disabled" because it makes you more likely to qualify! This is almost entirely because it is so much more difficult to qualify if you have a college degree! The jobs you can supposedly do are "easier to find" (for the VE, anyway) if you have more "skills" or "education." Also, "not being able to work with people" is often used to get around the grids, because almost every job requires SOME human interaction. For those wanting to limit SSDI/SSI, the least hard way would be to adjust the grids for those without a high school diploma and those who don't speak English. That could be done while still protecting those with intellectual disabilities.

Anonymous said...


Not quite. For sedentary or light, there is never a difference at any age level between limited education and High School education with no resulting skills.

The only difference is the narrow band for illiterate or unable to communicate in English for those 45-49. Of course, those are only a small slice of those with limited educations.

Only at medium exertion, us there any difference between having a limited education and having a high school education but even there only in cases where the person has no work history at all. See 203.01, 203.02, and 203.10.

So, yes, the grid rules do make it easier to be found disabled in nearly all cases starting at age 50, the difference between having a high school education or a limited education does not exist except for a very limited class of those retaining medium exertion ability, over 55 or 60 who have not worked at all.

Tim said...

My point wasn't the difference between high school grad vs. high school dropout, but, rather the difference between them and those with a college degree. That difference is huge!

Anonymous said...

Tim, I had considered that too but don't think it is a significant factor. I don't see the education level making enough difference to explain much of the documented disparity under the grids. Education that could provide direct entry into skilled work under the grids is only very rarely applicable. There is a special vocational profile for those with no past relevant work beyond a certain age with a severe impairment and very limited education too, but again, that is a drop in the bucket.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like we need a Low Education Poverty program and not cure the social ills with the SSDI and SSI Programs.

Dean Vernon Wormer: Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Animal House

Anonymous said...

Even low education poverty programs cost money that is unlikely to be spent by those in control. Unless it's a major tax cut or a hefty contribution to the military industrial complex, they aren't interested in it. I have always been perplexed how millions go to big time players (Exxon-Valdez) with no accounting for what happened to it, while food stamp recipients have to explain every penny and stamps are prorated to the day.
The grids are harsh enough. A younger person can adjust to being an order caller or a ticket taker while older people can't.

Anonymous said...

To those who would punish their fellow citizens with low education:
I remember many high school classmates who dropped out of school before "learning impairments" were an accepted concept. Even slothful 16-year-olds who dropped out to work at the local furniture or textile factory never did so because they would get onto disability someday--like young soldiers, they considered themselves to be immortal and would work until they would get the gold watch at retirement.

In my practice in semi-rural NC so many of my clients were cognitively impaired in some way, even if they didn't meet listings.