Friday, January 10, 2014

Recent Spate of Disability Fraud Discussions

The National Review Online ...

The New York Times ...

International Business Times ...

Market Watch ...

Dangle money in front of people and ethics go out the window?  Maybe for some but not for most.  Not from my perspective. 

Loss of employment or really loss of earning capacity devastate the afflicted.  The recent spate of fraud uncovered in New York, West Virginia, and elsewhere have the net effect of hurting most the people most in need, the truly disabled. 

This is not "disabled" as Senator Coburn would define the term, but disability in the real sense of having lost the ability to earn a living.  The Social Security Act defines disability as the inability to work at past work and then the inability to engage in other work considering age, education, and work experience. 

Truck drivers that can no longer drive, load, or unload a truck might be disabled.  The answer depends on age, education, and work experience.  What we, as society, expects from a 32 year old former truck driver is completely different than what we expect from a 61 year old former truck driver.  To the younger person, we want that person to do something else, something easier to do that conforms to the limitations and abilities left after the ravages of injury or disease.  To the older person, the law does not reflect a concern or desire to push that person back to something easier that conforms to the limitations and abilities left after the ravages of injury or disease. 

The same is true of education.  It is easier for the college graduate to transition to something different after having lost the ability to perform past work than it is for a similarly situated but illiterate person.  The squeezing out of opportunities and abilities caused by a dearth of education forms a foundation of compassion, not retribution.  We help people where they live, not where we want them to have arrived given a chance to do it all over again.  None of us gets a rewind button in life. 

Work experience also plays a factor in the disability calculation.  An individual with skills has a better opportunity to work at something easier than does a person that got through the last 30 or 40 years earning a living with their hands and back.  The Social Security Act takes all that into account. 

The concern about fraud should never cause us to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The precious nature of human life forces us to exercise care in making the difficult decisions whether a person should or should not get the income replacement that is Social Security disability.  Sadly, the decision about Social Security disability presents an all or nothing cliff without a safety net of true vocational rehabilitation to catch those on the cusp.  The American public, as the ultimate consumer of the Social Security system, deserve oversight to limit fraud and compassion to help those truly in need.  Not those that we think deserve help but those that fall into the definition of disability under the statute and regulations. 

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We used the  SCO and the aptitudes for dexterity  to show that there really are not a significant number of jobs for a person limited to lig...