Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ghosts Of Christmas Present: Waiting To Get On Disability


So you've enjoyed that turkey and dressing, and lingered by the fireplace with family members over a glass of Chardonnay. But if you're a Web addict, you eventually log on and check out what's happening on the blogs. If you drop by this one, I'll be your Jeremiah this Christmas Day, and with a little Dickens added for flavor.

As I write this, there are hundreds of thousands of disabled Americans who are waiting, sometimes for years, to get on Social Security disability. In the era of Bush, the system is no longer funded in a way in which claims can be processed in a reasonable time.

The New York Times recently reported:

Steadily lengthening delays in the resolution of Social Security disability claims have left hundreds of thousands of people in a kind of purgatory, waiting as long as three years for a decision. ...

Some have lost homes, declared bankruptcy or even died, say lawyers representing claimants and officials of the Social Security Administration. ...

"It's been hell," said Belinda Virgil, 44. She waited three years for her hearing in November and is awaiting the outcome. Virgil is tethered to an oxygen tank 24 hours a day and has no home of her own. "I've got no money for Christmas, I move from house to house, and I'm getting really depressed," she said. ...

State agencies initially turn down about two-thirds of the roughly 2.5 million disability applicants each year. But of the more than 575,000 who appeal ... two-thirds eventually win a reversal.

The problem is that there simply aren't enough appeals judges to handle the caseload. The backlog is now 755,000, compared to 311,000 in 2000. (Hey, wasn't that the year Bush was appointed president?)

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Many of these people couldn't survive in either of those settings.

So, what's being done? Not much. The Times continued:

The agency wants to hire at least 150 appeals judges, but the plan has been delayed by the standoff between Congress and the White House over domestic appropriations. Without new hirings, federal officials predict even longer waits ...

... in November, the Democratic-controlled Congress voted a $275 million increase for the agency. But Bush vetoed the bill, calling it profligate.
(So, like, he knows that word?)

I'm sure Bush is enjoying his turkey and dressing today. Too bad he's never had to go down to the local mission house to get it.

OK, I'm nearly done playing Jeremiah, and Dickens, too. Merry Christmas -- enjoy the rest of the day, in its true spirit. I, for one, go back to work tomorrow, thankful that I am able to do so. These are grim times for those who are not.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.


Anonymous said...

My question: where is today's Dickens? Why is it that one can read all of today's popular novelists and rarely hear a word about the plight of the poor and the working class in America?
(And to those who say, no one wants to read such things, I say this: Dickens was the most popular writer of his era---and, indeed, he remains popular today, worldwide).

The Cunning Runt said...

As a person who is recently unemployed and facing a potentially disabling surgery in the next few weeks, I find this situation terrifying. If I find myself disabled and can't get help with my situation, not only will I become indigent, but my two kids will most likely have to drop out of the colleges they now attend (with my assistance.)

At what point will this President attend to the needs of We The People instead of pandering to the Corporacrats?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying Social Security (a gov't run program) is inefficient.
Wow, what a surprise. I've never heard of an inefficient government program.
Here's a message from the Real World: The private sector is more efficient than government. We as a society need to look at private-sector solutions to our country's needs. We are, after all, a capitalist country.
If you're so enamored of gov't solutions to everything, may I suggest you move to Canada or Europe.
The Democrat Party seems to keep forgetting that the American people do not want government to be running everything and telling us how to run our lives.