The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


 Several weeks ago I drove into the parking lot of one of the local supermarkets where I shop regularly. As I was looking for a parking space, I noticed that one of my acquaintances had parked in one of the parking spaces designated for those who are handicapped. I also noticed that he had the appropriate “handicap” sticker hanging from his rear view mirror. I am not a car person so the only reason that I knew that it was his car was because of the “vanity plate” that his vehicle bore.

The individual of whom I speak is not handicapped. He is 28 years old, works out at the gym five times a week and is in excellent physical health. However, he “inherited” this sign from a deceased relative – and has no issues of conscience in using it. As he put it to me the one time that I drove with him, “It’s more convenient.”

When he made that statement I was undecided whether I should respond. But I did. My statement was, “You know, there are people who need to access these spaces because they have physical limitations. Don’t you feel guilty about taking their spaces?” His response was, “There are lots of handicapped spaces. They’ll find plenty available for them to park in.”

I didn’t pursue this further as it was obvious to me that I was dealing with someone who was too self-absorbed to care about the needs of others. While I think that I can be persuasive – I know my limitations.

I thought about this situation because I recently started documenting the number of ads I see on television for those who are “advocates for the disabled.” These ads offer their services to assist those who are disabled in obtaining their benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Since there are so many of these ads, I concluded that this must be a service that is needed. But then I thought about it – and wondered why someone would need that service. So I began doing a little investigation.

Apparently, more than six out of ten initial claims that are filed with SSA are denied by our friends in government. The exact statistics that I read were that 63/100 were rejected. But apparently the “advocates” understood the vagaries of the system.

Of those 63 who were rejected and used their services, they were successful in winning the cases of these claimants an average fifty percent of the time. That is to say, of the original 63 who were denied initially, 31 were subsequently approved.

I applaud their efforts – but I wonder why there is a need for these services. Let’s think about this for a minute.

There is probably no one reading this who believes in freely doling out taxpayer funds to people who are not qualified to receive them. I know that I am one of those.

But why shouldn’t the SSA do it’s job properly in the first place? If they approved legitimate claims to begin with and rejected those that were invalid, there would be no reason for these “advocacy firms” to exist. (By the way, the Federal Government has mandated that these firms charge the successful claimants a fee of 25% of the back due benefits that they ultimately receive).

The appeals process is so lengthy that it typically takes a minimum of three months to over a year – depending on the specific case – during which time the disabled individual has none of the benefits to which she is entitled. No income and no ability to support herself.

What a way to run a country.


Comments on: "ON DISABILITY" (4)

  1. Great post. I love to see that you’re being vocal over this issue.

    I’m not gung-ho about criticizing the government, but in cases like this, it does seem to be the government’s M.O. to consistently create irrational, consequentially harmful situations for those who can’t necessarily defend themselves.

    I’m absolutely loving your blog, keep up the great work.

  2. Thank you Michael for your comment. And welcome aboard.

    We live in a “throw away” society. It is manifest in our attitudes toward possessions – and it is manifest in the way we treat our environment which includes our treatment of the earth, its other species – and each other. Unless we develop a higher level of sensitivity to those who are least able to speak for themselves, we will have failed to achieve the higher potential to which I believe we are called.

  3. David Peters said:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. These agents (they’re not all lawyers) should not be required or needed. As you’ve seen in my blogs, the Department of Veterans Affairs is very similar to SSA. Because of the poor, slow, wrong, incomplete, you name it, or just lazy decisions, Veteran Service Organizations came into existence. If the VA was doing their job properly, these VSOs wouldn’t exist.

    I’ve not worked at the SSA, but working at the VA I’ve learned some rating specialists will make a lazy decision by not reviewing the entire package. I remember 1 adjudicator in particular who would not rate any veteran higher than a 30% rating regardless of the severity. The basis of her argument was she simply didn’t believe the any veteran should get more than 30% for a condition like PTSD.

    • I have a theory that many who seek out the security of government jobs have very low self-esteem and no great sense of their self-worth. I saw this during the two years I worked for the State of Illinois. As a result, feeling powerless in their own lives, they take the little power that they have – as in denying someone his or her benefit – as a validation for their lack of personal aspiration. What a shame that those who are least able to defend themselves are the victims of their pettiness. But, it’s only a theory. Thank you for your comment from someone who is fighting against this from the trenches.

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