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Millions of Jobless Americans Filing For Disability To Get Food, Medicine

They're gonna put me in the poorhouse, and throw away the key ....Social Security is in “trouble” because wealthy people aren’t required by the government to actually pay their share into the national program, and also because Congress has been “borrowing” billions of dollars that working people have paid into the program so that they might not have to starve or die of common illnesses once they’re chewed up and spit out by the capitalist system. But there’s another part of Social Security that’s running out of money even faster than the old age pensions, because a record number of discarded workers are now claiming disability payments and Supplemental Security Income — 3.3 million unwanted laborers will file for the last-ditch payments this year alone, and nearly 14 million currently receive the monthly stipends and early Medicare coverage. The money isn’t much, and is based on either your actual paycheck contributions or limited to an average $500 a month for SSI, but it’s “better” than the American alternative, which is pretending to rob a bank so you can get food and medical care in prison.

To get disability or SSI, the applicants must go through a lengthy process of ritualized refusals and humiliation: Two-thirds of applicants are turned down, and many legitimately disabled workers are forced to go through two years of appeals and hire vulture law firms to finally get the paltry benefits. But the focus of the federal government is always on “cracking down” on people who aren’t really horrifically disabled enough to get a government check, because it’s certainly not enough to simply be an unwanted factory worker in her fifties who entertains fancy dreams of not being homeless after her extended unemployment benefits run out after her fourth layoff. Morally, it’s always better to catch the miscreant buying forties with his SSI rather than, say, the biggest corporations in the world not paying a nickel in taxes.

The Associated Press reports from Washington:

Claims for disability benefits typically increase in a bad economy because many disabled people get laid off and can’t find a new job. This year, about 3.3 million people are expected to apply for federal disability benefits. That’s 700,000 more than in 2008 and 1 million more than a decade ago.

“It’s primarily economic desperation,” Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said in an interview. “People on the margins who get bad news in terms of a layoff and have no other place to go and they take a shot at disability.”

So it’s kind of like the Lotto! Except instead of paying money you can’t afford down at the corner market for a chance in hell at a million dollars — because that statistical impossibility is literally the only way out of the hole you’ve been intentionally pushed down — you promise a boiler room full of fourth-rate sharks a share of your disability check in exchange for them filing enough papers to finally get you approved. Win win?

Anyway, Disability and SSI are now scheduled to begin scaling back benefits over the next five years, when the programs as currently funded will only be able to pay 85% of what’s promised. So that $500 payment will go down to $425 a month, at first, but it should be gradual enough that the poors won’t hardly notice when it’s down to $100 a month and even the Pay-Chex shop next to the liquor store and the pawn shop won’t cash it. [AP]

About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

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  1. ifthethunderdontgetya

    Anyway, Disability and SSI are now scheduled to begin scaling back benefits over the next five years

    Of course. Rich people need their tax cuts and wars, so it's only fair that the rest of us suck it up and tighten our belts.

    For Jesus!

    1. V572 T-Blow

      Ha ha, "their wars." Rich Americans don't fight in wars — they send Poors to do it for them, and then the ungrateful slackers come home wanting "VA benefits" and "disability" and "unemployment." It's not enough they're paid and get free housing and medical care in the military, oh no, they need more handouts.

      1. Ruhe

        You know what else the poors do when they get back from the wars? They slap stickers on their trucks that say "If you weren't there….Shut Up!" and they vote for the Tea Party approved candidate in their local election. It boggles the mind.

        1. V572 T-Blow

          It’s the sunk cost fallacy writ large: if you undergo the hell of fighting there, you can’t allow yourself to think it was pointless. It kept us in Vietnam for six years after the failure was made evident in Tet 1968. And it’s keeping us in Afghanistan. Unfortunately our leaders, even while edumacated at our finest schools, are unable to provide the leadership required to help we less sophisticated souls get past this.//dick joke.

          1. MichelesPantalones

            Yeah, that's a dick joke alright. The dicks who were responsible for 58,000 body bags got a good laugh out of it, anway.

    1. GunToting[Redacted]

      Not only is he unemployed, but he'll soon be homeless.

      Maddow made the observation last night that Mitt is embracing his inner Thurston Howell III, since he doesn't stand a chance in hell with the evangelical tea partiers. I suppose if he convinces the plutocrats that he is their best hope at squeezing the last few drops of blood out of the turnip, they will bankroll his campaign/program the Diebold machines in his favor.

  2. mavenmaven

    If only there were more tax cuts for the rich, then their checks wouldn't be reduced! Blame Obama!

    1. Ducksworthy

      There is no trust fund! These criminals (Peterson and Simpson for two) actually want to default on the bonds held by the Social Security Trust Fund thereby defrauding millions of us to line their own pockets.

      1. AJWjr.

        Well, there used to be actual money in that trust fund, until St. Ron replaced it with paper to fund his own tax cuts for the rich. Since no preznit has ever turned down the use of a new tool (or free money), every preznit since has borrowed against it, until da shrub emptied it out and told us all that he'd looked in the lockbox and it's empty, so now you all gotta die put your money and trust into the stock market that immediately tanked to show us the wisdom of his words…

        1. Ducksworthy

          Why am I not surprised that this screwing over of the middle class was first thought up by St. Ronnie the Demented? Every evil scheme that he started is now coming to fruition.

          1. AJWjr.

            In his so-called "Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery, September 24, 1981" he called it "inter-fund borrowing". All those cute euphemisms got their start with him, as well as the ass-fucking.

  3. V572 T-Blow

    Too many of those freeloaders were buying hobo beans and paying their electric bills with those lavish disability checks, so this is good news.

      1. Gleem_McShineys

        I have witnessed someone in my neighborhood towing two shopping carts behind a bicycle, overloaded with cans. A bike?! Bungee cords?! THIS MAN IS OBVIOUSLY NOT POOR.

        1. ChessieNefercat

          Two shopping carts! And a bicycle! And I'll bet he's got "no skin in the game", either. Just a leech on society. We really need to make sure people like him start paying their fair share.

    1. Geminisunmars

      If they get electric bills to run their refrigerator and/or electric fan they ain't poor!

  4. Sue4466

    If only those poors who escape paying taxes by earning too little money would just share in the sacrifice & pay their fair share, none of this would be an issue.

  5. widestanceshakedown

    Today, we all weep for the plight of the job creators, since none of this would be going on if we just blew them better.

  6. Callyson

    “It’s primarily economic desperation,” Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said
    Yeah, and the aging of the Baby Boomers has *nothing* to do with the increase at all…

  7. Texan_Bulldog

    My mom applied for this because she had cancer & inexplicably couldn't suck it up to work 40 hours & still go through chemo (it eventually killed her). She was denied because she didn't have cancer long enough to qualify. True story–just ughh…

    Hello, Ken, good to read you again!

    1. Texan_Bulldog

      Thanks everyone! What a nice bunch of drunk, smart ass, libtards to be a part of! Can I just replace my family members with you guys??

        1. HistoriCat

          But think of the disagreements! "I respectfully suggest that my esteemed colleague snoopyfan2010 eat a bag of lightly salted rat dicks."

    2. Negropolis

      Reading that genuinely broke my heart. So sorry. Conservatives are always bitching about our social safety net when the thing is already in complete tatters. American Exceptionalism my ass.

    1. JustPixelz

      Of course! Corporations can do anything a people can do. Pay taxes, vote, fall in love, have an affair, betray the one person in world who would never do them harm, descend into a hell of their own demons in an alcoholic haze of despair, stare down the barrel of a 9mm street special…. Um, what were we talking about?

    2. Geminisunmars

      Yeah, except in the corporation's case it is called bailout. And it isn't as hard to get.

  8. weejee

    Ah Ken, thank you for bringing the blog another blinding bit of sunshine. Oh frabjous day, callooh callay. But not to worry so, the Savior's beloved Ricky will bring us new workhouses.

    1. spinozasgod

      yes, they will be built and run by a private company in Texas called Lady Libertea Corp. , whose logo is the statue of liberty and corporate moto is "bring us your poor, your hungry, your huddled masses…we are yearning to exploit".

      1. GunToting[Redacted]

        I thought Rickie's brand of Jeebus believes that the Statue of Liberty is an idol to a harlot demoness.

  9. DoktorThompson

    Ugh. Why don't unemployed people go somewhere where I don't have to see their miserable faces? It's a real lunchtime downer. Perhaps they should just report to the nearest Soylent Green facility where they can be of some use to society instead of just bitching and moaning about not having enough money to live.

  10. DaRooster

    So it’s kind of like the Lotto!
    Except with the Lotto you stand an EXTREMELY better chance at getting back at least what you have put in… and less paperwork.

  11. Ducksworthy

    Look this is easy. This is Amurikka. Just don't ever become disabled or old or sick and you'll be fine.

    1. Grief_Lessons

      Any two of these things together is economically insurmountable: old, disabled, sick, non-Caucasian.

  12. NowTheyTellMe

    On the upside, there is a special provision for "deferred benefits" for those who choose hibernation in lieu of current SSI payments. Just until the crisis is over, you know.

  13. MissusBarry

    Well, obviously these people just don't want to work because everybody knows that living on various forms of public assistance is the lap of luxury. They'll all be quadrupling the size of their pathetic 3000 sq ft two bedroom ocean front homes once they get on the dole.

    1. Gleem_McShineys

      I've heard some of these lucky duckies also even have ELECTRICAL OUTLETS to plug such fancies into!
      Some of the fucking bastards even have the shocking gall to shit in their own toilets, and not behind liquor store dumpsters!

      Poor?! HA!!

      1. baconzgood


        1. ChessieNefercat

          And just imagine the ones who actually have water flowing through the indoor plumbing! The envy of Dubai, they are.

  14. Lucidamente1

    "Congress has been 'borrowing' billions of dollars that working people have paid into the program": jeez, Ken, if Congress can't behave like a rich jerkoff trying to raid his trust fund, what good is it?

  15. BaldarTFlagass

    "the American alternative, which is pretending to rob a bank so you can get food and medical care in prison."

    Dang, I thought this was my idea, except no pretending.

    1. Ducksworthy

      That's my plan B if the hallucinogenic mushroom farming doesn't provide me with a retirement, in prison or out. It won't matter much by then.

  16. SorosBot

    We need to find a free market solution! All those unemployed disabled people should know that there's money in the begging industry.

    1. Barb

      I have written a short book on how to panhandle properly. It's called "Stand By The ATM. Well Played Homeless Man, Well Played" Let's see those excuses now.

      1. SorosBot

        The other place homeless guys love is right near bars, ever since the city banned smoking in them. They know they've got a steady stream of people coming out for a few minutes.

        1. Barb

          Note to the guys, don't be afraid of dating homeless chicks. They are grateful and when you are done you can drop them off just about anywhere.

  17. Indiepalin

    Not only that. Who's says these "disability payments" have to be distributed in actual money? Trump's idea of sending out casino chips to welfare recipients seems to be a logical solution. Then at least they will have a very good chance of hitting it big at the craps table and buying one of those American cars you see advertised during football season.

    1. EatsBabyDingos

      Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ken Cuccinelli
      The American Family Association Library of Congress (only needs one book)
      Senator [insert name] Koch
      President [any GOP wingtard]

      1. Negropolis

        Hell, at least Somalia isn't under any illusions that it's a First World nation. They are at least consistent in their misery. At least Somalia knows that it's Somalia.

    2. GOPCrusher

      Remember back in 2008 when the entire planet was in economic collapse, and we had morans that said that nothing should be done, let the Free Market work things out?
      That fucked up.

  18. Indiepalin

    Not only that. Who says these "disability payments" have to be distributed in actual money? Trumps's idea of paying welfare recipients in casino chips is n idea whose time has come. Then at least our tired poor huddled masses will have a shot at hitting it big and buying one of those American cars we see advertised on Monday Night Football.

  19. metamarcisf

    Not only that. Who says these “disability payments" have to be distributed in actual money? The concept of paying welfare recipients in casino chips is an idea whose time has come. Then at least our tired poor huddled masses will have a shot at hitting it big and buying one of those American cars we see advertised on Monday Night Football.

  20. metamarcisf

    Not only that. Who says these “disability payments" have to be distributed in actual money? Paying the disabled in casino chips is an idea whose time has come. Then at least our tired poor huddled masses will have a shot at hitting it big and buying one of those American cars we see advertised on Monday Night Football.

  21. freakishlywrong

    Maybe, just maybe, if we changed policies, away from the ones that have been in place for the last fucking decade, maybe shit would improve a little. Y'know give some other economic theory a thought. Ya think?

  22. EatsBabyDingos

    Currently, over twenty billion sperm in Gov. Rick Perry's TruckNutz have lined up for the benefits. Perhaps they know something we don't.

  23. sezme

    That's it. I'm definitely importing my mother to Canada. Everyone else: you're on your own. Good luck!

  24. Ayn Rand Paul Tard

    Okay, say we liquidate the poor and all their assets, which is estimated to be a little over 1 trillion, and distributed that to our corporate overlords. How long would that tide them over? A year? Less? You just gotta wonder who'd they go after next for their fix. Will there be actual battles fought over companies? It would give hostile takeovers a new meaning.

  25. SayItWithWookies

    Socialism for the rich, stone soup for the poor. What a horrid fuckin' way to run an advanced industrialized democracy.

  26. BaldarTFlagass

    So, this new book by Ken, it's kinda like the Grapes of Wrath for the 21st century, eh?

    1. weejee

      …and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

      John Steinbeck

  27. Mumbletypeg

    "cracking down” on people who aren’t really horrifically disabled enough to get a government check"

    Is this sort of paralleling Bammerz's proposal to winnow out the lesser offenders among the immigrant detainables so only those who pose a real threat to society will walk the plank? Or is this the converse of it… my brain hurts from all the sad trombones blaring through these posts. Either way, Jan Brewer must be thrashing her craven scorpion-tail right now in contempt, blithely unaware of the foolish consistency here.

  28. mrbubb

    I work near Mass General Hospital. Nowadays you see a lot of dudes in or near the hospital: young guys missing arms or in wheelchairs, apparently paralysed. They served in Iraq or Afganistan, and now they're fucked for life. And all they have to rely on is VA and SS disability. So they can spend the rest of their lives in utter poverty so that corporate jet owners may not be unfairly demonized. Fuck this fucking country.

    1. Fox n Fiends

      Remember when someone asked Romney why his sons aren't serving in Iraq? Fuck them is right.

  29. hagajim

    I'm surprised they aren't handing out these $500 checks to the rich fuckers – as a tax rebate!

  30. mumbly_joe

    The good news is, though, that at least we're not raising the top marginal tax rate by 4%. Because that would be class warfare.

  31. Gorillionaire

    Unfortunately I have some first hand experience with all this. There are alot of variables that go along with the approval process for disability benefits. The way claims are processed from state to state is pretty different, the doctors that examine applicants are all different, all kindsa stuff. There are certainly people who will apply for benefits based on claims that are very hard to verify, like depression and back and neck issues and such, and surely there are a few scammers that try very hard to qualify. But skimming off benefits for everybody doesn't even begin to address the problem. Choking off the multi headed hydra of television lawyers who thrive and this shit would be a good start.

  32. poorgradstudent

    Hmm, our plutocratic masters apparently just don't understand the "bread" part of "bread and circuses" (well, the circuses kind of suck nowadays too).

  33. deleted2463008


    You got any room in one of them abandoned stucco kibbutzes so I can die with dignity?

    Thanks for all you do!

  34. deleted8228214

    I'm mortified that my initial reaction was gleeful, because the disability beneficiaries that I come into contact with tend to be drug dealers who took disability from normal jobs under questionable claims of "stress" and now are able to devote their energy into being full-time drug dealers. Surprisingly, drug-dealing with all of its related violence and arrest potential is less stressful than, say, working at Target or wherever. Am I turning into a Republican? Is there a cure? Quick, someone please post some anecdotes from law-abiding people on disability who are raising kids after losing an appendage and find themselves living in squalor eating hobo beans and despair.

    Or just call me a dick. Because I feel like one.

    1. sati_demise

      well, it is cheaper than putting the drug dealers in jail …so we do save some money.

      heres your anecdote: ex-brother in law was a hard working roofer in Phoenix, the hottest place on earth. His job caused massive back problems, so he had to have cadaver bones installed in his spine. he gets a couple hundred a month and always votes for the teabaggers and neo nazis. this is not a happy ending.

      1. Winnie_Cooper

        That started off so well. My heart was doing a little weepy dance of empathy until you got to the teabagger part. And if he is a Maricopa County teabagger, that may be one of the craziest kinds. (I'm from Tucson. I know my Arizona crazies.)
        Still, manual labor in that part of the country is a bitch. I'll still give it a 6/10, with points deducted for voting against his interests.

    2. snoopyfan2010

      Here's some help. Why are you spending so much time around drug dealers? Maybe if you broadened your social circle a little you might meet some honest people on disability.

      1. Winnie_Cooper

        Because I work in law enforcement, which is not known for bringing me into contact with decent human beings (really, from any angle). And while I don't deal with drug dealing cases much anymore, most of my murderers also do their share of drug-dealing, so I really can't get away from them.

    3. Barrelhse

      You're surprised that the criminal element you deal with would try to scam the system? And then you transfer that behavior to all the rest of us? Grow the fuck up.

    4. LadyeLynx

      I have been disabled since I was 15. Most disabled persons I know work as independent contractors ( no physical to have to pass, no benefits etc)
      1) They can not afford to take time off from a job that pays less than minimum wage for all the numerous appointments, court-dates and hoops you have to jump through in order to qualify for disability. That is if they are lucky enough to be mobile enough to get to all these places. Also as 'independent contractors' we end up not 'earning' enough points to qualify for disability even if they did apply.

      Most of the people I met through support groups for RA and other rheumatic disorders are doing exactly what I have been doing. Working as an independent contractor, and relying on free clinics and programs from the Kidney foundation and other organizations for our medical care and prescriptions And if you don't have medical insurance and pay cash expect that visit to your Rhuematolist, specialist or ER to cost a lot more than it does with insurance. Seriously if you pay cash they charge you almost double for the same service as what they charge to the insurance companies. . .. My medication bill runs several thousand dollars a month. .none of them are pain killers, the pain killers are just to expensive and not absolutely necessarily, I will live without painkillers, but my kidneys and/or heart would shut down completely without some of the medications I take. … So I take just the basic 'disease modifying' medications. That is another 'fallacy' that many have that 'most' of the prescription expenses for disabled persons are for 'painkillers, not true even if they can afford them Doctors are reluctant to treat 'chronic pain' with medications.

      2) Disability does not cover even basic living expenses, if you can find a job as an independent contractor you have the chance of maybe making enough to just get by.
      If not you have to find a way to supplement your income, or live in a tent, and go hungry, which is why you see some turning to dealing drugs to earn money on the side.

      3) The way that the disability system is set up, the majority of truly disabled persons end up not 'qualifying' for it, the ones whom can jump through all the hoops, and meet all the requirements are typically the ones whom are mobile and are only marginally disabled.

  35. zhubajie

    If you're young, there's the Army. If you're older and have a college degree (or can fake it), teach English in Mexico or some place. http://www.eslcafe.com list openings world-wide.

    Don't be the last tuba player on the Titanic.

  36. jaytingle

    The worst aspect of paying out SSI is that the money goes right back into the economy. The proper use of capital is for a billionaire to put in safe, non-productive investments and sock it away.

  37. 1234567890

    My cousin FINALLY got approved for Social Security Disability, his mother just got the "CLAIM APPROVED" letter last week; after living in absolute poverty for 3 1/2 years, on the streets, credit destroyed, hundreds of sleeping outside criminal tickets & living with a horrifying liver, pancreatic, & brain cancer he finally got approved. I just wish he could cash his checks….HE DIED FIVE MONTHS AGO!

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