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Recent SSD publicity highlights struggle for people on program

Published on March 29th, 2013

Why is it always easier for someone to think the worst of someone else? Is it a matter of trust or is there something deep seeded in our culture that causes us to quickly judge what we don’t understand? These are questions some people here in Illinois may be asking themselves after a recent publication gave a scathing review of the Social Security Disability program, portraying it in a not-so-favorable light this month.

What started as a story on NPR quickly exploded to other media outlets where reporters ran with a story about the increased number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits. But instead of praise, the program that has offered millions of people benefits is now being frowned because the story highlights a problem that people assume is affecting the system more and more.

Calling SSD “a welfare programs aimed at middle-aged, blue-color workers,” the NPR article seems to suggest that the increased number of people on disability is not because the number of people with disabilities is on the rise but rather people who can’t find a job are using the system so that they don’t have to work anymore. But to make a statement such as this, a negative stigma is being attached to those people who are actually on the system who need the benefits. It also does not bode well for people trying to applying for benefits either.

With all of the negative stigmas that already exist surrounding mental illnesses and chronic pain-all disabling disorders that only the sufferer is experiencing-articles such as this only make a difficult situation worse. Even the smallest suggestion of dishonesty could cause an SSA administrator to deny a legitimate application thereby denying someone necessary benefits.

Though it may be easier to believe the worst in someone, this perception may not always been right. It could be seen as a blanket assessment for people in similar situations which could desensitize people to the fact that they’re really suffering and that they truly require the assistance from this program.

Source: The Atlantic, “Disability Insurance: America’s $124 Billion Secret Welfare Program,” Jordan Weissmann, March 25, 2013

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