You Can Help Shape Our Disability Policy

November 2, 2015 • By

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Last Updated: November 2, 2015

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Social Security needs your help. We are asking for responses to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on how we should modernize our vocational rules, which we first published in 1978. These are the rules our disability decision makers use to decide whether an adult with a severe disabling condition can do any job in the national economy.

The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent the person from doing not only their previous work, but any other substantial work.

On Friday, November 20 in Washington DC, Social Security will host a National Disability Forum. The meeting will focus on the realities of employment for individuals with severe disabling conditions, especially for those who are older, have low skills, or low education levels. The purpose is to gather insight on circumstances such as age, education, and work experience, helping us understand the effect these may have on an individual’s ability to work and to adjust to other work. The National Disability Forum looks to consider how these vocational factors can and should inform our evaluation of an applicant’s ability to work consistent with the Social Security Act’s definition of disability.

Paul N. Van de Water will moderate a panel of experts from varying perspectives on these topics. Following the panel presentation, we encourage comments and discussion from all attendees. Your involvement is of the utmost importance in helping us further enhance our disability determination process.

Comments presented during the forum, panel, and open discussion period will be included in the public record for the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making, which is available in the Federal Register. To review and provide written comments, go to www.regulations.gov and enter SSA-2014-0081-0001 in the search box. Comments will be accepted until December 14.

If you plan to attend the forum, either in person or by phone, please register by Monday, November 16, 2015. For more information about the National Disability Forum series, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ndf.

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About the Author

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy

Gina Clemons, Associate Commissioner, Office of Disability Policy


  1. Robert P.

    I just went thru the hearing process with a vocational rep. He listed only 2 jobs I could still do with my disabilities, (one non existent here), BUT, did NOT mention where they were available in my state! Just that they were, I feel that IF you have one of these reps at a hearing, they should give the type of jobs available in the claimants area. Not just the state they live in!! AND, it’s a moot point to list the number of those jobs available nationwide!

    • Mekal F.

      The “vocational experts” are the ones “milking the system” The vocational experts reports are completely speculative with no basis in fact. Social Security should get rid of the “vocational experts” and use the money saved to help the disabled who are being shortchanged on their benefits.

      • Kim U.

        I’ve been in vocational rehab for 3 years…They are paid by SS through the Ticket to Work to help me…
        I’ve received almost NO help from them…They get more then I do a year to do so too…
        They told me to not tell prospective employers about my disability.

        In the USA many people are debilitated from pesticides and chemicals in our environment…When your body becomes “overloaded” with these foreign molecules in our bodies things go haywire- from the brain to the bone marrow…even mutating our DNA…

        This is not being addressed, as our society becomes sicker, and sicker…

        In other countries they test for a common mutation in every child born, the only way to deal with a deficient G6PD is to avoid Xenobiotics…The poisons…

        In the USA they pretend it does not exist…and when you tell a doctor (I’ve told 50) that what happened was pesticide exposure they refuse to not in chart, or acknowledge you even said it…Even though you say it in every other sentence!

        The results to exposure is traumatic for me…I laid in bed 1 years and could not move…That’s how much nerve damage (and happened 3 times to me – at 7 year intervals since ’95) It takes a few years to get back on your feet…But, this last time has taken 8 years to come back or at least to where I can do more…
        This time was different because it was identified that my blood was clotting…I lost hip joint, finger tips, and toes…almost my arms and legs…

        I’m terrified to leave my house…People spray poison without a thought everywhere!

        I need to tell people I’m disabled, and why to avoid being hurt

        VR doesn’t get it, or this is a ruse to screw me up with SSI…
        I cannot sit in A/C for very long because my fingers and feet turn purple, and after a few weeks they begin to peel, and really hurt…Makes it hard to file…

        I was given SSI without any problems…straight off the bat..I live in Hawaii- The doctor said I had Frost Bite…

        I had temporary disability before that this time too…all the other times I just layed on friend’s couches…and they feed, and supported me…
        I was better prepared this time, and had moved into public housing where rent is based on income…I cannot drive…my hip will not let me lift my leg repetitively…My entire body will not allow repetitive work…After a while to survive you find work a rounds.

        UNTIL it is recognized as the real cause of ILLNESS being our environment nothing will change…

        and more will become sicker…with a swift death by lack of caring in communities…

        Peace and Love

  2. Anthony

    I can’t see why we don’t get a raise like 10% for Cost Of Living increase the people who work for the goernment shouldn’t get a raise either.
    That is very unfair.

    • John O.

      Hardly anyone gets a 10% raise, why should you? And who says the government is here to make things fair for you?

      • Denny

        If you want to make things fair then let’s do away with the government unions. It’s impossible to fire anyone on the government payroll for poor job performance. The VA mess is a good example.

        • Tom M.

          Those are not because of unions, but rather because of civil service rules. We instituted civil service, which covers almost all government employees, while unions do not, and in many places unions are restricted in what and how they can bargain. But earlier we had massive corruption in government employment, which is the reason why we now use the civil service system, so there are good management and employment practices.

    • Nick

      Nobody is getting a 10% raise.

      social security is asking for comments on how vocational factors such as age, education, and work experience affect an individual’s ability to adjust to other work that exists in the economy. This is about SSDI , not SSI, and about one step in the process of deciding SSDI claims.

  3. Charlie M.

    I believe we should put more emphasises on retraining people on disability insurance. I see several people who are on disability insurance and are out riding four-wheelers, hunting and working for cash. It would be cheaper to re-train them than pay them Social Security benefits.

    • Mekal F.

      Considering what they receive to pay for rent, food and clothing, I am not surprised they have to hunt to get enough food to eat.

      • Susan

        You know what….if there weren’t so many freeloaders in the system, there would be plenty of money for the people who are There would be plenty of money for the TRULY disabled if not for all the freeloaders. This blog is enough to make a person sick….listening to all the whining from all of you who get free handouts from the taxpaying people of this country.

  4. Evelyn S.

    I feel that a person with server mental illnesses are mental retardation should continue get disability ..I myself is mental retardation has been since HIGH School even getting assistance its still w struggle for me yes I continue need the assistance BC ur not able take care of everything u need have to with bills..Some ppl work so I think that is should be no different and be understanding ok for someone work ppl have a hard time making ends meet…As where they can work certain many hours.. Still keep they benefits for someone

    • John O.

      Many companies hire those with limitations, physical and mental. Increase those incentives. You are better off mentally if you work.

      • Sanra M.

        My daughter has Down Syndrome. She goes to every interview, she dresses correctly speaks correctly and is chair of her RICC. She can’t get a job! She says once someone sees her they only see her Down Syndrome. She’s more handicapped by the employers than she is by the Down Syndrome. She’s had her food stamp help cut and is so afraid of her Social Security being cut it makes her scared and she gets physically ill when she thinks about it too much.

        I have rods in my back and 3 artificial joint in my back and I have more verterbra going. I am in so much pain some days I can’t think. I work 40-50 hour weeks. My left hand and arm has recently been so painful that I’ve been taking 1/2 of Norco and 1/2 of a 5mg of valium every 4 hours just so I can concentrate on work not pain. I’m not going on Social Security be cause it doesn’t pay hardly anything and because people always want to take it away because “people are milking the system”. They are the same people who, when it happens to them think they are the only ones to deserve it. Geez, this is the only 1st world country that doesn’t give a damn about it’s people. Well I think Romania is worse.

        • isftt

          If your daughter has Non-mosaic Down Syndrome (chromosome 21 trisomy) , she will not get cut off from a medical standpoint. That diagnosis meets the listing requirements. Maybe she can work with VESID or a vocational rehab service that can help find her a job.

        • Susan

          So, why don’t you move to a country that really CARES about their people? When you find one, why don’t you start a “kickstarter” campaign to get the money to buy your ticket. I’m sure there are lots of people who would contribute so you could live in a country where people really care about you!

          • Collyn

            How about you take your own advice, Susan. Leave.

  5. Paula

    I am in the medical field and I see people frequently on dis ability but who are healthier than I. I believe most practitioners just don’t want to deal with these patients and just fill out the papers to get rid of them. They forget that these healthy individuals cost us a lot of money. There needs to be a way to deny permanently dis ability until ALL avenues of are exhausted. If they can’t walk get them a sitting job. If they can’t do something find some job they can do.

    • John O.

      You don’t think much of your contemporaries do you?

      • Susan

        Why should he? It’s the Obamacare way!

    • Cyndi

      Wow Paula! Bitter much?

    • Mekal F.

      Wait till you have a severe injury to your lumbar spine which makes sitting even more painful than standing before you make these sort of incompetent remarks. Your post makes me believe you are not a medical professional.

      • marilyn

        I agree with you. I have worked my entire life. retired at 63 because of multiple chronic pain issues caused by 3 failed spine surgeries and other degenerative disks and trapped nerve. I cannot sit, lie down or walk for very long distances yet SS told me I cannot qualify for disability. I can’t do any job that requires constant sitting, standing or even focusing for long periods due to the chronic pain distraction. I also am legally deaf and have major depression. what do the want? I worked from the age of 18 until 2013. I want to work but I can’t. they also said I did not submit new information for my appeal, not true, I hand delivered documents to my local office and had a phone hearing regarding my increasing hearing loss, soon to be deafness which was apparent since I couldn’t hear half the questions.what do they want? for me to be homeless , in pain and on freaking drugs I don’t want just to exist? I want help. If I could find a way to magically cure this trapped and inflamed nerve that works, I will do it, but every one of the 3 surgeries I had only made the pain worse. this is so wrong. My doctor even submitted a form that states I am not capable of doing any work due to my long term, ongoing conditions and hearing problems. Hoping my hearing in a year or two does something. A year or more for a hearing, some people could be dead or homeless by the time they get a hearing. Wrong, so wrong, I should move to Wisconsin where seniors over 65 are well taken care of if they are not among the rich who can afford outrageous fees for medical procedures and PT and the best doctors who don’t make them feel like whining lazy people just looking for a handout. My experience after working for the State of Oregon for over 20 years, and no, I don’t get one of those outrageous giant pers pensions, tyvm. good luck all.

    • W. N.

      Well said Paula. Most of these so called permanently disabled can certainly find ways to enjoy activities other than than work. I personally know several on the disabled roles that can function very well in all sorts of activities that could translate into useful work. I even have a relative that is lying profusely about his inability to do any work. He can ride a tractor, mow lawns, paint houses, hunt and fish but damned if he can find a job that fits his capabilities.

      • Tom M.

        Can he do it consistently and at close to full time hours.
        I am a vocational counselor. I had a man with an “explosive personality.” He was generally pleasant and amenable, but without warning, he could turn murderously violent. When I first got him he was living in an abandoned house and picking up food where he could, even dumpsters. He could work for short periods of time, but he also needed a minder who could have him step out and go through some sort of de-escallation via either meds or deep breathing. But that is not “being able to work” as most employers define it.

    • Debra

      Paula – Please send those that abuse the system health care included to the proper agencies. I for one did not get disability due to what someone wrote on paper as it was the opposite. I had to be denied 3 times and then get an attorney before being told I am something I already know. I do not think its the medical field that doesn’t want to do the paperwork since they do it and people are still denied. Again send what you suspect as abuses to the agencies and let them decide if its a legit case or not.

      • Susan

        Are you serious? The “agencies” spend very little, if any, time trying to root out fraud. You got a LAWYER to sue for disability…have I got that right? PERFECT!!

        • Collyn

          Susan, you know not of what you speak.

        • Tom M.

          We used to call it the “lawyers retirement plan.” A person must apply on their own, and unless they know the system, it is easy to make a mistake. Only after being denied, can one get a lawyer, who then gets the normal 1/3 of back payments. But they also manage the proper medical paperwork and other supporting evidence. All future payments are the sole property of the recipient.
          I had one recipient who had gone through 3 lawyers before finally qualifying. A garbage hauling firm had dropped a dumpster on him. They had to remove part of his shoulder, but he had become addicted to pain killers and for this SS kept denying him, it seems. Anyway after 8 years the judge ordered SSD to being paying him at least the SSI payment while they figured out his SSD payment. Meanwhile he had to survive off his wife’s earnings and what his extended family would give him. Incidentally his new lawyer was only awarded 1/10 of his settlement. He should have been handled under Workmen’s comp, but they treated the initial injury and then, as so often happens, turned him over to SSD for long term disability.

          • Cindy

            It is not just being able to work at something. You have to have someone who is willing to hire you in spite of your disability. That is not something that can be done easily.

          • marilyn

            It is so sad that we are treated like criminals after workin our whole lives. Fate took a bad shot at us and we pay the price. I never planned on being disable, I’ve taken care of me and others my entire life. I believe I deserve the respect and the disability benefits I deserve. If I should improve to a state where I think I can work part time or something, I will. It’s not fun hanging around being depressed because I can’t do anything due to this pinched, trapped nerve and resulting chronic pain (agony) 24/7. My mind is still active and I so want to get back out into the world of being busy and productive. why is being unexpectedly disabled treated like a crime> why?

        • Hail E.

          It’s nearly impossible to find experienced people in this particular topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    • Jessica

      If you think someone is faking it then you should report them. End of story.

      Also, I can tell you from experience that we do have to constantly prove that we can’t do certain jobs. If you have a spinal injury, they’ll come back with “well, you can do an office job” and you have to prove to them that you can’t, usually with documentation.

    • Alex E.

      The definition of disability is the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity ($1130/month) in any occupation anywhere in the national economy. “Sitting jobs” are considered in the determination of disability and are termed “sedentary work.”

      In regard to a permanent denial, under the constitution everyone has the right to due process of law and Congress wrote the Social Security Act to permit reapplications if previously denied, however the prior decision is taken into account and you have to show worsening of conditions or significant advancement of age.

    • Anonymous

      Not all disabilities are Physical ! I have an issue with physicians such as yourself who Like to be judge and jury . Walk in Someone’s Shoes FIRST ! …You Should be Ashamed !

  6. Donna S.

    I believe you make it to easy for people to get on disability, especially young people.
    Anyone who receives disability should be rechecked every few years, visual observations of day-to-day behaviors, etc.to make sure they are actually disabled.
    I know of two or three people that I would say didn’t need disability but receive it.

    • John O.

      Some disabilities are not visible to the naked eye. Another part of the definition is “likely to result in death within …”

      • William G.

        Thank you John, I have major depressive disorder with OCD and anxiety. Although looking at me I may look “normal”, but on the inside I don’t want to live anymore. Looks can be deceiving. Just buy looking at some one, you can not tell how they feel, what they are thinking. Thank you for listening.

        • W. N.

          If you don’t want to live, maybe you should consider checking out and removing yourself from the burden you place on society. You seem coherent enough to make your case for public support but defend your decision to feel sorry for yourself and continue with a miserable life. My advice, get off your rear end and devote at least as much time to improving yourself as you obviously devote to feeling sorry and deprived.

          • Susan

            AMEN! You beat me to the reply!!

          • William G.

            Wow! Are you W. Nodded a human being? I’d hate to be in your shoes. Your comment was very distasteful. You know very little about me, how can you be so rude. It isn’t easy telling people my inner feelings. And now I know why. It’s e I’m people like you with all your hatred and stupidity. I hope you don’t you don’t ever become disabled and have to hear some one with your beliefs. Ugly is not the way to live.

    • Endearingtones

      I worked most of my adult life. If I was not working, I was taking care of my two children whom had major health problems. I was a caseworker for the Dept. Of Welfare. I, myself, had no easy time to get onto disability. What I saw, through my clients, was a mental disorder for disability seemed to get approval faster than a physical disability. It took over a year for me, and I know others took longer.

      Also, we are checked to make sure we still qualify as fully disabled. I did not ask to be disabled. My doctors would not release me to work after they saw my suffering for 15 years.

      • Susan

        Care to share with us the name of your disability? Bet it’s some mental condition you got from taking care of 2 sick kids. I’m sorry your kids were sick, but sounds like you had enough time to work while you had 2 sick kids. I wonder how long you worked as a “Welfare Case worker” before you got it figured out how to get on disability yourself.

        • Endearingtones

          Spinal and cervical stenosis, degenerative disc disease, degenerative disease of left hip and that is just the beginning of my list. I went back to work after my children improved. We were a military family at the time.

          You may sit in judgement all you want. I paid into the system. I hoped to retire, but my health took a spiral diwnward. No mental condition, but I thank you for being so genuinely caring.

      • Len

        I have been fighting for my disability for five years now. Anyone that knows me will tell you that there is no possible way for me to work but because of my age they think I should be able to. I had worked from the time I was 18 paying into ssi but when I need the benefits they keep denying it. They try to starve out the people that deserve disability but are quick to hand it to the ones that there is nothing wrong with exept being lazy.

    • Debra

      Donna Smith – There are many disabilities that you who are not trained to spot exists. We have no right to judge another least you be judged yourself. Now with that said I do agree there are abuses but its due to the “loopholes” not the ones applying and using them. I posted before that re-evals are needed yes but remember these simple facts 1) any job they take is recorded and affects their monthly benefits 2) If they were to be “observed” it would be costly in man power and the system cant afford the influx of people as it is so no money to budget extra hours 3) Young people are not the problem here. Our older population are because they cant get jobs at their age and they do have medical issues and their cost of living is higher then most due to their medications and doctor visits. There is no 1 catch all to this problem so start at the beginning and that is to find the loopholes and fill them in. Revisit those that are on the programs and see if it still applies to them.

      • Susan

        EXACTLY….any job you take reduces your benefit. What a beautiful system to have a built-in reason to never work. It’s the same thing for all types of welfare. All recipients of government welfare payments should be required to “work” for those benefits. If you are well enough to be on a computer and write on a blog, you can surely do something for the government to defray the expense of these welfare payments.

        • Collyn

          So, Susan, are you an employer who would hire these folks?

        • Endearingtones

          Hint: Welfare is a separate program from disability. So many seem to confuse the two.

          I paid into the system from 1974 to 2012. Many have paid into the system. It seems there are those that will judge even if you worked most of your adult l8fe.

          Sigh. Disability can happen to any one at any time.

        • Tom M.

          Susan, SSI reduces benefits by one dollar for each 2 dollars earned. That means you can earn twice as much as you get from SSI before you loose SSI. There is also an additional free $85 for transportation and other such expenses before the deductions start. It is considered an incentive. And in most states it means you go off SSI when you are working full time at about minimum wage. Many people think at minimum wage is not enough. So how is half of minimum wage enough?
          Entirely different system for SSD. Currently you can earn up to 1090 before you loose benefits, but you loose them all. So SSI has a sliding scale, while SSD is all or nothing. There is also a one in a life time 9 months of being able to earn anything you can under SSD, in an attempt to get people to return to work. There are all kinds of incentives. Social Security is not dumb. They know you can entice and encourage people, but you cannot punish them for happening to be either elderly or disabled.

        • Matthew B.

          I don’t think you get the real point of the benefits being adjusted down or in what manner. The benefit payments are reduced if one works but because of the manner in which they are reduced that person will have more income than they would by just getting their benefits alone. This should in fact be encouraging beneficiaries to work and get off SSI or other like program in fact as someone makes more money the SSI payments can shrink down to $0 once you hit that point you are no longer entitled to any benefits whatsoever. I myself yes do receive SSI and yes I do not currently work. However I have Aspergers Syndrome/ High Functioning Autism, because of this and the fact I was misdiagnosed until I was about seventeen by the ever so incompetent education system (I still don’t understand why they think that’s their responsibility btw) with some sort of degenerative brain condition I was in the “Special” classes. Let me tell you I sure felt so special being taught out of textbooks that had a special OBSOLETE stamp on them and being put in the equivalent of an isolation chamber just because I mouthed off or asked a question they did not like and this all before I started 7th grade! After middle school because I wasn’t Mentally deficient or learning disabled I was put in a class for the severely emotionally disturbed in fact they had some one who actually was accurately diagnosed with Autism in there because they did not know where to put him. Anyways as you can see I did not have a lot of educational opportunities in fact I feel the public education system pretty much failed me. As a result I started doing minimum wage jobs until I was 23 at which point I had a work related accident that strained/ sprained my arm and later on I leaned had damaged my back in the bottommost vertebrae I have been in so much pain it’s ridiculous and my doctors never figured out my disc was herniated until I was 30 probably because they knew my wonderful Medicare / Medical would not like them to tell me that. So anyway yeah there is nothing more I would like to do than work I’ve been going stir crazy for seven years from not working, in fact despite the fact they will more than likely make reforms to the program that could effect me I am most defiantly voting Republican this upcoming election as long as Donald Trump is not the candidate. Any ways this just me stating the fact that not all peoples disabilities are physical they are also mental and that working while on SSI will get someone more money than SSI alone and that not all people are on SSI to “Milk the System”.

      • Pat

        I think that maybe it is OK to be “judgmental” about how public money is doled out, especially when you are one of the productive people who are supplying that money. Yes, we want to help the truly disabled… and we can be judgmental when who is and who is NOT!

        • Tom M.

          What what makes you even believe or want to believe that Social Security doesn’t care about the public funds they are charged with spending wisely and compassionately. SS does its job, occasionally too well, but never have I seen it done not well enough.

          • Merl

            Exactly where did you hit your head?

    • Jessica

      I disagree. Whenever I talk to somebody who has to apply for SSI, I end up telling them “be prepared for a fight.” I’ve also heard this from public caseworkers at several agencies. Many, many people end up appealing several times, battling for years and having to pay lawyers for help. You MUST prove without a shadow of a doubt that you cannot work, constantly rebutting their reasons why you can supposedly do certain jobs that you’re unable to perform. Its actually quite a stressful and lengthy process.

      Admittedly there are people who seem to get SSI rather easily. They’re a minority compared to many. Also, people who are actually working while claiming to be disabled and lying to Social Security about it are DEFRAUDING the government and the taxpayers. It is a crime. How about you guys report them instead of use their story to label everyone else?

    • Ray F.

      Thank you for your comment, Donna. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability, and those who qualify based on our strict definition of disability are among the most severely disabled people in the country.
      The Social Security Administration conducts Continuing Disability Reviews from time to time to make sure the individuals receiving checks are still eligible to get them. Generally, if medical improvement is possible, we will do a continuing disability review (CDR) approximately every 3 years. If not, we may review it less frequently.

    • Alex E.

      The rules (medical-vocational guidelines) are stacked against you the younger you are. If you are under the age of 50 and aren’t objectively disabled (i.e. paraplegic) you are pretty much guaranteed to be; denied once, wait 3 months, denied at the second level, wait on average 14 months to receive a hearing before an ALJ regardless of your diagnoses.

      In regard to them checking up on you every few years, these exist and are called “continuing disability reviews.” Additionally, if SSA suspects fraud they will send undercover operatives called “cooperative disability investigations” to interview your neighbors and watch you directly.

      Speaking of fraud, the estimated improper payment rate found by the Government Accountability Office (an office entirely independent of SSA, and actually independent of the executive branch entirely as it is under Congress) is 1% with .6% of that being accidental overpayments (i.e. governmental error, not fraud).

      Finally, award rates have decreased from 52% in 1992 to 33% in 2010. As the fraud rate has never significantly changed during this time period there are two possibilities; fraudulent applications have skyrocketed or the disabled are being denied their valid claims.

      In regard to you stating two or three people you know don’t need disability but receive it, report it to the local field office. I’m sure they will greatly appreciate it, especially considering your exceptional medical skill being able to diagnose both mental and physical functional impairment at a glance.

  7. Melvin G.

    Time to crack down. I know of too many that are milking the system. They could and can do work, but don’t want to. They enjoy sitting on the ass and collecting the money for doing nothing. Time to put them to doing some form of work to collect.

    • Dawn

      I think the young people on disability for physical disabilities should be tested every year at a vocational test facility like I was when I was disabled due to an injury at work. They test how much weight you can lift, how you can use your body in different situations, etc. I bet 60% would not pass the disability requirements, they would be able to work. Just a thought.

      • Beth

        Please remember: not all disabilities are related to the types of physical tests you speak of. Just as an example, look up Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder among sighted people. Such people may be both mentally and physically strong, but there are not any jobs for people who are always sleepy and cannot work the same shift every day.

        • Susan

          Are you KIDDING me??? That is not a disability. It’s an made-up malady by some psychiatrist to collect medical payments from Obamacare! So these people could be awake long enough for a doctor to diagnose that they can’t stay awake? This is a new low in hypochondria. Can you imagine telling someone you suffer from non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder? Sounds like something discovered in Colorado after they legalized pot! Munchie syndrome is usually a parallel diagnosis for non 24 hour sleep-wake disorder.

          • Beth

            No, Susan, I am not kidding at all. Have you not heard of the “body clock”, our circadian rhythm? It functions normally in most people including you. When it does not function normally, it is at least a disorder and can be a disability. It is neurological, not psychiatric.

      • Bob B.

        What use to be a disability no longer is. If a person can drive a car then there should be only limited disability. Can they operate a computer? Persons coming off long term unemployment and going on SSDI should raise a flag.

        • Susan

          You think someone might take the time to check out unemployment rolls, wouldn’t you? That’s what SSI has become….the next level of unemployment insurance. The government has to do something to support these people who don’t want to work, so let’s raid SSI. Now SSI is going broke, thus, the reason for this forum. Like the government really cares about these comments.

        • Marti


          • ellen

            I understand completely marti. I am brain injured/cognitively impaired from a very large brain tumor plus damage done from surgery to remove it. I try to work but ate much trial and f many failures found that I could no longer work the way I once did. Now I work part time for my county library shelving books. It’s a job but I can’t make ends meet off the PA believe me. I’m 56 years old with a couple of bad discs in my back and arthritis in both knees. How long am I going to be able to keep this up do you suppose? Pror to getting sick I always works…from 18 years on. I’m not looking for a handout or to commit fraud but I wish I could get some help but like you, my disability is invisible.

        • Andrea

          Mr. Blanchett, I have a brain injury, I drive and work part time. I also have 17 screws in my hip, no disk between T 12 and L 1. I have had many physical problems develop DUE to my brain injury. I spent 7 weeks in a coma and SSA denied me twice. I also have severe anxiety due to the brain injury. The metal in my hip creates innumerable problems with the nerves in that leg.

          Prior to that accident, I was a middle school Engish and Science teacher. In Missouri where I live, teachers do not pay into Social Security because they pay into a Public School Retirement System. Luckily for me, I had worked while in college and paid in the minimum number of quarters to qualify for SSDI.

          Without SSDI, I would not qualify for Medicare, but would have to rely on Missouri Healthnet, i.e. Medicaid.

          If that were the case, I would not be able to work due to physical problems that Missouri Medicaid would not have paid for to be corrected.

          Now, I pay for a Medicare Supplement which takes care of any out of pocket expense to me that Medicare approves but does not pay.

          I have the adult son with MS. He has had to buy a low cost insurance policy through Obamacare. He has been denied SSDI even though he qualifies. There is question that his age, 27, is the biggest problem for him to be approved.

          He has two boys and lives off of $1400/month.

          He can’t work.

          • Romo

            My sons ( 23 & 24 years of age ) refuse to work, so I have them at home. Once I and my wife die, and they hit the age of 65, if they live that long SSI will take care of them, if SSI still exists. Again once I am dead and buried I won’t care, but that’s the life they want, so let them find out what will happen in the future to them. They’ll be out begging for pocket change since their sister isn’t going to be there for them because I told her live your life and forget about them.

      • Licensed S.

        Dawn, I think you are exactly right; even if you factor out those disabled clients who have mental health (documented) issues, there would be an enormous amount of folks who could work.

      • JohnnyG

        Okay; but what about those who qualify on the basis of a physical and mental impairment–both of which are severe–yet neither one alone qualifies–yet both, or (or a physical and multiple mental– or multiple physical and a mental) impairments, taken together qualifies the person for benefits? What about exertional limitations? Sensory-related impairments? If the case makes it to a hearing, it is likely that case law was used in the recipient’s favor. Why? Because SSA federal regulations MANDATE that those {“oh so snakey, unethical–note my sarcasm”) disability attorneys or non-attorney representatives use CASE LAW to cross-exam those “med-voc experts” and ALJ and “medical expert” and do what they can in FAVOR of the claimant to win their case; including writing legal briefs, remand for new hearings, ordering new consultative exams, appealing further (to the Appeals council, to the federal court, etc.). The issue is more complex than MOST seem to think.

    • Mekal F.

      Your “milking the system” comment is offensive. Most of us have worked, have paid our Social Security dues during our working life and we are disabled through no fault of our own. We PAID for this insurance policy called Social Security and have every right to receive OUR benefits due when we became disabled. For you to make obnoxious comments like the one you did is completely inappropriate.

      • C. S.

        I totally agree with your comments, thank you for speaking that

      • Diane

        I’m hoping that comment was not directed as a blanket statement but I personally know of a few people who amazingly cannot work but seem to be capable of doing so many other things except work. One for sure chose not to work jobs that had health benefits and lived a life that led to what is now their disability but somehow manages to work for cash! I am all for the benefits being there for those who need them but I do believe there needs to be better management for those who are truly milking the system.
        I am wondering if there is a cap when a child is disabled or someone becomes disabled and can no longer work.

        • Tom M.

          There are provisions under both SSI and SSD for part-time work and attempts to return to full time work. But many people who cannot work full time can still supplement their benefits and are encouraged to do so.

      • Susan

        Not really….if you and everyone else “paid” for the benefits, why is the system out of money? Because too many people think they have a “right” to be “disabled”.

        • Marti

          TO SUSAN

          • Kim

            We all have different stories. There must be others out there who got on ssdi through their parents or family and now are in middle age and stable. We used our voc. rehab. and clubhouses to find part-time work (used up trial work months) and succeeded as mental health consumers. Although some of us didn’t want to pursue work, others like me wanted a good career. There aren’t many choices I can see. There should be programs that work to help when you’re caught in the cracks of being able to work and stuck on ssdi.

      • Susan

        Are you a US citizen?

    • Debra

      Melvin Garman -m while I agree with you that there are those abusing the system I don’t believe there are enough to warrant punishing all. First off I don’t know anyone who gets enough a month survive. Take for instance I am a single mother of a disabled 28 year old. I too was found to qualify for disability so I too collect a check. Now both our checks combined are not enough to survive and while we get food stamps it is so small that it doesn’t even put a dent in the food bill. The checks don’t meet nor exceed the bills we pay each month and co-pays for Dr visits and meds. I think the past earnings are not fair numbers to base ones amount on since times change so what you made in lets say 1999 is not the same as you made in 2014. I think new ways to evaluate what a person should get each month should be found such as what are the persons monthly costs as opposed to what they made in the past. Also the area in which one lives should factor into the judgement of dollar amount seeing different costs come from different cities/states so on.

      • Susan

        Ever noticed how “disability” runs in families?

        • Collyn

          Judgmental much?

          • Endearingtones

            Applauding your reply, Collyn

        • Disabled A.

          It’s funny that you mention how disability “runs in families.” Have you ever noticed that the genes that make up our DNA, such as those pertaining to medical issues/diseases ‘run in families?’

        • Tom M.

          Susan, disabilities run in families in part because of genetics. There are all kinds of disabling conditions that are inherited. To imply somehow that they are choices, when most people can make much more even at a minimum wage job, is just mean spirited.

      • Lee

        I do think you have to put limits on living expenses. I do agree that you have to take the cost of living into account for the state you live in. I do have a hard time when someone on ssi drives a very expense car and lives in a very expensive home. We have to live within our means, there has to be a standard set, but it has to be realistic.

        • Disabled A.

          Lee, I agree with you that cost of living is different among cities and states. However, I’d like to address your comments on a nice car and expensive home. You must remember that you have no idea where those items came from. I live in a nice home, not overly extravagant, but nice enough. I acquired that home after my mother died. Luckily she had it paid off before she passed so I just have to manage the insurance, property taxes, and maintenance. But I had to lose the most important woman in the world to me to be living in this ‘expensive home.’ Just some food for thought.

          • Lee

            I agree with you totally, I just know some people that are getting aid on other programs and they each have a new vehicle and much nicer home than most and expect that aid to pay for it. I just feel that when people get aid they have to be realistic about the expectations. I have no issue helping with food/heat/electric/etc, etc, but when they expect to live a higher life style I have an issue. Those who enjoy seafood and steak every night while I work non stop and could only afford to feed my family hamburger helper, it gets hard to swallow. I do feel that they need a good home, a good mode of transportation and a decent life like everyone else.

    • Louise S.

      Why don’t you report them for fraud?

  8. David B.

    Thank you for highlighting the 2015 Forum and for the invitation to register to attend. However, trying to register online (at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/National_Disability_Forum_Summer_2015) produces the following:
    “At this time, registration for the 2015 SSA National Disability Forum is closed.” When will registration be open?

  9. Hope W.


  10. Frances R.

    I believe that SSI disability should be restricted to those that have an onset and DLI insured date like DIB. In other words, a 50 year old calls up and wants SSIDI because he is not insured for DIB. His onset was 6 months ago. My question is what did you do the first 30 years of your working life. I believe you should have worked in your lifetime to get SSI too, as an adult. Why should we encourage SSI to those that never worked either. I know it is welfare based but there should be a “non held harmless” clause if the person did not work for a length of time. If the DLI is before the onset for DIB then why can’t it be a similar rule for SSI. To get SSI you had to have attempted to work at least 10-20 years of your life, maybe not real recent but SOMETIME. Thanks for listening!

    • John O.

      SSI is meant for those who do not meet the work requirements of the SS Act. To redefine it as you suggest would in effect destroy the concept. Some young adults and children never had an opportunity to be able to work. SSI also supplements those who receive a small income from either SSA or other income. It was meant to replace State programs and bring them under a national rule.

      • P l.

        What I can’t seem to understand is, why do they get all available benefits when Those of us who have worked all of our lives and now retired can’t even get dental coverage but has paid taxes into this program ? Those of us who have worked all of our lives and now retired shouldn’t have to worry about dental coverage when those who have not contributed at least five years of work history is getting every thing for free

        • LINDA


          • Bill

            You obviously do not possess the education or intellectual acumen to understand this post. SSD is an insurance policy that is PAID into and then utilized only when a person becomes legally disabled. Moreo than half the people who apply are denied and 30% of all SSD applicants are now veterans. Concerning SSI, these are folks with very serious issues. You lack empathy and come across very bitter. Be more concerned with the 9 out of 10 that need help as opposed to the 1 that abuses the system. In closing, do you know that it cost more to make 1 500 megaton bomb than it does to pay for everyone that collects SSI? How come you were not concerned when Rumsfeld announced that 2.3 trillion was missing from the Pentagon. He announced this on9-10-2001. You can watch it on utube. What happened the day after he announced it? Got it now?

          • Kevin S.

            I agree, less years in work should not result in richer benefit(s) than those who worked until retirement age.

          • Helper

            I believe there maybe a generalization in the past comments. What’s to say these people you are speaking of haven’t worked longer that the individuals above? Being on disability does not mean someone has not worked even years longer than the commentators. It means the person is now disabled. This could be from any number of things. I believe each case stands on its own. Also many people put much more in the pot of money than others so those putting more in get out more. America is where we take care of our brother, even when we may not have much.

          • Karen

            You have NO clue & are NOT informed on Disabled people who are very sick mentally or physically or both! I have had NO quality of life for 30 years since i was 23 i got very sick with multiple physical & mental health conditions that stopped me from working i cannot even go out to do normal daily activities like go to a mall or store or movie i haven’t been to a movie in 18 years i am much too sick & suffering like a dog on a daily basis just getting out of bed is an effort with the chronic pain & medical conditions i have that have prevented me from living any quality or normalcy of life! So before people post here how long other people should have worked or attempted to work they should all mind their own business & feel very lucky you all have a life & good quality of life there are many of us that have nothing but pain & torture on a daily basis & nobody should judge anyone suffering like this that is stuck home very sick unable to function & are crying every single day just be lucky it is NOT you & do NOT judge & say others can work when many disabled cannot they have been too sick for too many years & never lived or had a happy or pain free day!!!!

        • Louise S.

          I receive SSDI, I do not have free dental. You might be confusing free dental with Medicaid, which is not Medicare or Social Security disability.

          • L. T.

            Medicaid doesn’t have dental either

          • Deb C.


        • gwen w.

          i agree with you, p. plessington…it saddens me that we on disability/social security don’t have dental, vision…since we cannot do a days work due to our disability can we not get this most needed help…most of us on disability are in need of each of these…when most of us on ssdisability have worked and probably got injured on the job as i did, i don’t understand why, these people get all these benefits and we on disability can hardly pay for meds, keep our house payments up, etc…we paid our money in while we worked…why should our money be used to give these ‘freeloaders’ the benefits we can only stand on the outside and wish…we ssdisability, have put our time and our money into the social security coffers, but we don’t have the benefits that should be our due…

          • Disabled f.

            Many of the Medicare advantage plans offer dental & vision, yet they’re not 100% free like Medicaid. But they ARE available.

          • PatD

            Everyone knows there are exceptions. These comments don’t include everyone. Some of us also have very real chronic pain and multiple health conditions and mental issues like myself. I have worked since the age of 14 and I am know 50. I have PTSD, Peripheral Neuropathy. Chronic headaches since i was a young child, multiple herniated discs cervical and lumbar and sever stenosis. I have had reflux since the age of 20 that caused acute and chronic inflammation in my esophagus, which gives me chronic nausea. I have had two knee surgeries – torn meniscus, and grade 4 chondromalacia resulting in abrasion/microfracture whi h means the cartilage that should be in my knee is gone which is painful daily. I’ve been physically nervous since about the age of 15. I’ll stop there. I’m a Respiratory Therapist, whi h I didn’t become until the age of 29 and before that many labor jobs but always employed. I’m finally at a point to where i can’t go on. I physically can’t do my job. I haven’t quit and filed disability. Why? Because I feel guilty. Because I know how we are judged. I know how many have abused the system. I don’t want people to think bad of me, but I’m truly at the end of mind over matter. I think more of suicide now than the thought of disability. Why because I know how we are judged. I work in Healthcare. I know that way to many people that could work don’t and that makes everyone in Healthcare lump most everyone in the same basket and see this bothers me. Our medical care for people that need stuff like proper pain management has all but disappeared because of abuse. The only people that suffer are those that need it for the abuser will always find something new

          • Ray F.

            Thank you for sharing, Pat. The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition for disability. We pay Disability Benefits to people who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last one year or more or to end in death. However, if a person thinks that he or she meets our definition of disability, we encourage them to apply. A person may still be eligible for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program if they work. However, their earnings cannot exceed a certain amount. This is called the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. In 2016, the SGA limit is $1,130 per month (or $1,820 for blind applicants). In addition to the amount of money you make, Social Security may also look at the number of hours you’re able to work. For more information visit our “Frequently Asked Questions” web page on disability.

        • Disabled A.

          Just a little information for you, P lessington. I receive SS Disability and have Medicare and Medicaid. Neither of those will pay for dental work or necessary visual aids. Glasses, dentures/dental work are out of our pocket. We don’t get EVERYTHING for free. As a SS Disability recipient, I have the same restrictions and more on what is ‘handed out’ for free. I too pay a premium for Medicare Part B and Part D. I can earn a minimum amount (and do) without losing medical coverage and prescription coverage. It’s a fine line I walk trying to make it on $750 a month from social security and working twelve hours a week with a VERY understanding employer.

          • L. T.

            I agree

          • Merl

            I know elderly people that worked all their life @ low wages and paid SS, and don’t even make $700.00 a month from SS and CAN’T work even 3 hours a week. You are blessed.

          • STEPHANIE M.

            Call Medicare/Medicaid and ask them for the “Extra Help” program.
            They will pay for the premium taken out of your benefits. The State pays for this.

        • james g.

          democrats are 100% behind giving the working person’s taxes to those who are here illegally and those who do not work.

          You voted for OBAMA so your children will suffer the consequences

          • Fabian R.

            Seriously you must be an avid Fox news fan. We know all they talk are facts.

        • carol

          wake up people, these are human beings you are talking about. so sad people like you. I have worked all my life, I am now 70 years old and I don’t get much social security retirement. I would gladly give 5% of my income to help others, if we all did that there wouldn’t be a problem.

          p.s. and I only get $900.00 a month. that’s not a living wage.

          • Colleen H.

            I agree with this comment whole heartedly. Soon to be 70 as well and would be very happy to have to it continue as it is the JUST thing to do. We are not responsible for our government using our money! As to anyone who has a mental or medical reason for not working it is only fair that they be evaluated to determine their fitness for work. The reason many people are annoyed is that so many are given it when they are not really unable to hold a job, full or part time, but are often lazy or have little desire to work. I hope all these are taken serious as the Seniors of today are in big trouble. Talk of taking it away from those who earned it is awful and very stressful. Please assist us in getting this straightened out as soon as possible so those who are worried can start to sleep again!! Thank you for the opportunity to express this .

      • Jessica D.

        My next door neighbors have two disabled young adults, ages 21 and 26, living at home. Their disabilities are due to an inherited gene. The 26 year old goes to a workshop every weekday for about 5 hours per day. He makes a tiny salary, but the job makes him feel valued. The 21 year old has just graduated from her special education classes and is involved in a charitable group that helps her learn certain skills. The group also volunteers at food banks and community gardens. They both receive SSID. I do NOT resent that these young adults have never worked, or paid into social security. (Their parent did, and still do.)
        What I do resent are people who are on disability due to their poor lifestyle choices. It appears that some families know just how to manipulate the system, and their doctors assist them in getting SSID. Two sisters I know who recently started on disability. One had back problems, received her disability, yet, cleaned houses and got paid under the table for her work. This gal is as strong as an ox. The other sister, who was working for minimum wage, also developed back problems, and got on disability. She also works as a cleaning lady, which is back breaking work. She is overweight and has been hospitalized for hernia surgery because her bellly is so fat. She eats candy bars for breakfast and lunch….fast food the rest of the time. She told me that since it was so easy for her sister to get on disability, she was going for it also. And got it.
        A woman I had worked with was the only one in her family NOT on SSID. She has 4 siblings, all on disability. She has 3 adult children, all on disability due to drug abuse in their younger years. Her 4th son is receiving disability legitimately due to brain damage as a child when he was injured in an auto accident. She has two grandchildren in their mid 20’s. They were her hope for the future….except, they are both on welfare now.
        Years ago, many children followed in their parents footsteps, and if mother was a nurse, the daughter(s) also chose nursing as their vocation. Sons followed their fathers in the auto industry fields, or, in their father’s professional field.
        Now it appears that receiving benefits from the government, in whatever form, seems to be the accepted way of following in their parents, or siblings footsteps.
        Case workers are overworked, and too many people fall through the cracks and are given benefits they should not be entitled to receive.

        • B. F.

          I agree with the above comments. I too see so many taking advantage/working the system and yet some others, try as they might, who really need assistance can’t seem to touch it. I don’t know what the answer is but a change is needed for sure!!

          • Brenda

            I so agree. My neighbor is on SSDI and I have seen him remodel a house, build a fence, climb a ladder and sand a boat. What I would give to be able to do that, heck, even be able to walk my dog again or plant a garden. I was told I could work 2 hrs out of an 8 hour day. I can’t sit or stand more than 10 minutes at a time without extreme pain. I multiple spine issues but, because I can sit or stand 2 hours out of an 8 hour work day…I was denied. I was told I could do part time work. I would like to know what job…would love to get back to work. I am only seeking the help until all of my surgeries are over and I can sit or stand for a reasonable amount of time and be able to go back to work without fatigue, pain, loss of concentration due to pain killers and be able to walk from my car to an office without using a shopping cart. Something needs to change in the system. I think it is broken.

        • DDR

          well said Medicaid or chips or something paid for tons of children to have silver crowns placed on their teeth under anesthesia when only 3-10 years old. I know their parents did not pay for this. Their baby teeth were rotted from sugary foods, lack of teeth brushing. I paid for them with MY tax dollars.

          • LMT

            I know, my teeth are cracking apart & I have no dental insurance due to my job loss after 30 yrs. Didn’t realize I was paying for irresponsible parents who get free dental for their kids and they know nothing about feeding or raising them.

        • Cynthia B.

          Case workers are understaffed , underpaid , undertrained . dont give a fuck murders. Just like medicaid specialsit. There pissed off becuse they have to work for such low pay. But they dont give a shit about disabled,elderly starving , freezing, left to have heat strokes becuse they cant afford heat or ac which they would be able to afford if case workers were not so ignorant n lazy

        • Marc

          You seem to be very confused. SSDI stands for SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE and is ONLY for people who WORKED AND PAID IN a substantial number of hours in the last 10 years before becoming disabled. It’s a MYTH that it’s “easy” to get. Your doctor does not help you get it; all he does is fill out forms you get from SS and provide your records to you to send to SS. You must be examined by an INDEPENDENT DOCTOR arranged by SS and that person’s report of whether you’re too disabled to work at ANY kind of job is what decides whether you’re approved or not. Over HALF or more applicants are DENIED and you can then appeal but the deadlines are very tight and very strict and you must have MORE or NEW information that proves disability. When that’s DENIED too you’re only recourse is a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge again, very tight deadlines. If you don’t have anything more than you did to begin with you’re probably going to lose that one. The entire process is VERY complicated and if you don’t get the forms/deadlines right you’re denied automatically. Even for people who are approved the first time and that’s NOT easy only perhaps 30% of the time the MINIMUM wait is TWO YEARS and sometimes even three. If you appeal it’s definitely going to be three years and THEN no money starts for NINE MONTHS at least. It costs big bucks to get all your medical records and if they don’t show a HISTORY of problems or at least a very SERIOUS injury you’re DENIED and that’s it. NO “doctor’s note,” and records can’t be falsified. Also most doctors CHARGE now to fill out these forms a d they’re LONG and INVOLVED and may come back to him 3 times for further information. Good luck getting one to do THAT on a tight deadline and your doctor DOES NOT collect and compile your records for you. Sending it all in, filling out every t hing, meeting all the deadlines is YOUR responsibility. And ONE doctor is NOT going to be enough to convince them. Go to the Disability section on the govt website for SSDI and read the STRICT REQUIREMENTS that MUST be met to even be considered disabled. That’s the TRUTH, not the stories you hear.

          • Sandy

            So true. Thank you for posting this information. Very difficult for The people that may be mentally disabled to complete and process all requirements on their own. If no family or support available other agencies , if they have been lucky enough to have a case manager, need to assist them and the doctors offices. Some medical offices are hiring outside eligibility workers or care coordinators for their offices. Easy, Never! Thank you

          • STEPHANIE M.

            Absolutely TRUE.
            I waited over 4 years to get my Disability, and had to keep working the whole time. It was a MISERABLE experience.
            And while SSDI is not touted (nor is Social Insecurity) as a retirement plan, it will not cover your needs as you age. I have to rent a room with two other strangers in order to have a roof over my head.
            I take Public Transportation. I get Food Stamps, too.
            I am so glad you (hopefully educated) these numbskulls about the difficulty and time that it takes to qualify for this much needed program, that TRUMP plans to cut back on. I am looking for a tent at 63 years old.

        • Colleen H.

          I agree with this post as it was stated as I feel as well. We can improve the process and get the unworthy people off the rolls. As to my amount of SSI being collected for working until my retirement, things are not looking very good for us. They say the used the money for something else, isn’t that like STEALING, which is a crime?

    • C. W.

      Your comments on eliminating SSI don’t take many situations into account. For instance, what about an 18 year old who is disabled (who couldn’t possibly have a work history)? What about a person with a disability who was a stay-at-home mom, and is now widowed or divorced? What about someone who has worked for many years, but whose income was so low that their disability payment is below the SSI threshold of $733 per month? Your proposed changes would leave many people with disabilities with no support whatsoever, and not take into account varying life circumstances.

      • John O.

        Excellent points all!

        • Jennifer M.

          Thank you for providing clarity regarding the Title XVI/SSI program and all the individuals this program has assisted

          • Jennifer M.

            My response was direct to all those who provided clarity regarding SSI and DIB. KUDOS TO C. WINSLOW!!!

      • Renee

        Social security is for people who have worked and contributed. Money should not be taken out of social security for people on disibility, it should not come from our hard earned,given into ss from our first job till we retire. Let it come out of somewhere else.

        • Henry

          Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is paid from the Social Security Trust Fund. It is only for those people who have worked and paid into the system and become disabled, either permanently or for a year or more. It is included in the Social Security Act and is an earned benefit. SSI, on the other hand, is a program that provides a minimal income for people who have been disabled all of their lives, or who become permanently disabled before the age of 18, and have no work history to draw from. SSI is paid from General Funds, and NOT from the Social Security Trust Fund.

          • BRENT

            Very valid pint. The payments for SSI should come from the General Budget, NOT SSI, which was funded by payments from workers & employers for years and years.

          • B E.

            Brent, you seem to be confused about SSI and Social Security. I recently moved to a small town, a farming community. It seems like half the elderly in town, particularly retired farmers, are drawing SSI. But they do not get Social Security, because as farmers, they didn’t pay into the system. Whatever SSI is, exactly, it has nothing to do with the SSA and does NOT draw on Social Security funds.

          • Ray F.

            The Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a needs based program that pays benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older. Blind or disabled children may also get SSI. Please read our publication about the SSI program for more information.

          • Pamela

            In my case, I did work, for many years, but because I hadn’t been able to work recently enough (go figure, disabled people! ) I only qualified for SSI. We are a family of four and because my husband receives a whopping $1,050 a month (daughter with Spina Bifida-denied) and her son a get a check for $67 a month. A lot of good working did me!

        • Nancy

          Our social security contributions cover both retirement and disability. It’s an insurance program with strict requirements to get your benefits before you retire.

        • Merl

          Like all the trillions that the politicians give to other countries that keep their own wars going. America should be spending more for our own, like availability of jobs, deporting illegal families that do not belong here taking Americans’ jobs, only to send that money to another country. The US Government should be balancing a budget and cutting the free flow of Americans’ money.

          • STEPHANIE M.

            Tell TRUMP your concerns. His “Budget” plans to gut Social Security AND Social Security Disability. As well as Health care for the lowest income people.

            Why don’t you put your money where you mouth is? Plan on renting a room when you retire.

        • carol

          people do get social security retirement, those with enough credits. my husband has 39 credits and he can’t get retirement social security because you need 40 credits, what a joke. He has to get SSI, he hurt himself at home so badly that he couldn’t work any more. what do you think they should do with him?
          social security retirement and SSI are to separate government entitlements.
          read a little bit.

        • Pussy

          My son is mentally disabled how bout I’m come fill my fridge with my food u piece of shit I hope u have a disabled kid so u can shut your fucking mouth

      • Mary L.

        I agree with C. Winslow on Nov. 2, 2015. I have a grandson 19 years old who is disabled but has not worked. He got a job but could not stand for hours to do the job. He drew survivors benefits from my son until he graduated from high school. Since the age of 3 when they started him out with plastic insoles to wear he has had multiple surgeries including removing sections of bone from his foot. His foot is at an awkward angle from his leg. He has also had multiple surgeries on his shoulder and he has had surgery on his hip where he got a hairline fracture from a fall and had to have pins put in his hip. He does not draw disability but I don’t know why on earth not. He stays in tremendous pain everyday. I feel that he has been dealt a bad hand and social security disability needs to pick up where his dad’s survivors benefits stopped. If anyone who reads this knows how to go about helping him I really would appreciate it if I could some way be contacted so that I could let him know.

        • Tom M.

          That is exactly what SSI is for, and in most states it guarantees automatic access to Medicaid. He would also be eligible for state Vocational Rehabilitation services which might help him prepare for a job where he didn’t need to stand or which had ADA mandated reasonable accommodations

          • Jean

            Yes this is what ssi is for people who are disabled but look how many people draw it and they can get a job. They might not make top dollar but they can make a living. A lot of people get ssi because they are depressed come on now there are meds that can take care of that and you can still work. I think it is time to screen these people and see if they really need it.

          • amber s.

            I believe all people under the goverments care should be allowed ssi income especially those of the ex offenders due to the job challenges they are faced with upon release due to the nature of their crimes which makes it uneffective for the employment in which they seek.

        • Ray F.

          Hi Mary, we are sorry to hear about your grandson’s medical problems. He can apply for disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSI program pays benefits to disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. Also keep in mind that survivor’s benefits can continue after age 18 to an “adult child” who is disabled, unmarried, and that has a disability that started before age 22. For more information or to see if he should apply, your grandson can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. and speak with one of our representatives. He can also contact the local office directly.

        • Marcie R.

          My son was born with a rare birth defect of his brain called pachygyria and has ODD and ADHD. He has poor motor skills and graduated school reading at a 5th grade level yet he was turned down for ssdisability. When he was 2 ss said he was medically qualified but he was getting ss from his dad who is disabled so they turned him down. Yet people with their so called “back” problems get it. When he turned 18 ss said there was some menial job he could do but where,? we live in a small town not New York city. Yet if I would keep him on the meds for ADHD most of which didn’t work or gave him side effects he could get it.

        • STEPHANIE M.

          Get a GOOD Disability lawyer to guide him through the process of getting Disability. He has a very good chance of getting it quicker than most.

      • Andrea

        I agree on all points C. Winslow. I am a parent with a disability and mother of an adult who has MS and HAS worked enough quarters but has been denied SSDI. there is no way those who are children can obtain SSI if their family income is over a strict limit. Given that I worked the minimum number of quarters to qualify for SSDI, I don’t have the issues of a child who grew up with a disability.

        Parents of those children cannot hope to provide total care for their adult children. Those adult children also do not qualify for Medicaid if the family income is too high. They are all caught in a defective system.

        • STEPHANIE M.

          Denials are a way to weed out the non-disabled. Keep applying and get yourself a lawyer than specializes in SS Disability.
          I was denied 3 times before I got a lawyer, then got approved in a year.

      • Was a.

        I did not work enough quarters to qualify for SSDI – I was a student and a mom. What work I was able to do was not enough for the program. After a divorce I find myself unable to hold a traditional job due to disability. There are many others like myself that are in this kind of predicament. I don’t relish taking aid, and I don’t qualify and am not receiving any, but it is really difficult to survive financially.

        • Ray F.

          If you do not have enough credits to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits under the SSDI program, you may be eligible to receive benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSI program pays benefits to disabled adults who have limited income and resources. You can call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to schedule an appointment and to speak with one of our representatives, who are available Monday through Friday between 7:00am and 7:00pm. Generally, you will have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. We hope this helps!

      • B. F.

        I don’t know what I missed, is the plan really to eliminate or just change procedures? People in real need should have the support needed, but shouldn’t there be some way of eliminating the expense of those that could work but have just found a way to use the system?

      • Colleen H.

        This was well stated and I agree that it can happen to anyone.
        We must not judge the person. We must determine on each of the merit of the problem. If not able to work so be it. They need food and creature comforts as we are all aware. If they are not worthy of the criteria then they should not just hire an attorney to get it, as that is almost fraudulent!!

    • Marylou S.

      I had open heart in 1967 ‘at 8 yrs old they gave me bad blood so chemo, coma and still worked all my life till 99..Thats almost 20 yrs I worked and still sick. No one should get disability who do not deserve. You nor I should stand in judgment for that .The need how much easier it would be to get it .I don’t think they need this as much as you should education ones answering phones and if they know how to find correct answers

    • E. P.

      Ms. Catania would you please explain what all those acronyms mean… just write out the words… so that those of us who don’t know can more fully appreciate your comment. Thank you, Ms. Catania.

    • Terri

      So what you are saying is Stay at home mom’s who have a disability should not be eligible for help?

    • John H.

      Hello Frances,
      Great info. I think I know SSI. But what the heck are DLI, DIB, & SSIDI?
      I thought John Deere had a lot of acronyms.
      Thank you
      John Hansen

    • Debra

      Frances R Catania –
      DIB -Disability Insurance Benefits – Title II
      DLI Date Last Insured – Title II disability insured status
      Title II – Social Security Disability Insurance
      I do know what you are purposing will cut out many who are in need. Yes there are those that abuse and take advantage of the system so finding the loopholes/grey areas is where it needs to start. Once the loopholes are filled in the benefits should be applied where they need to be. It should not matter your age or education or even how long you have worked what should be focused on is what the problem/problems one has so a determination can be made. Some should be retested and or revisited every few years to see if they can finally work that should be a requirement. SSI/SSID should not be looked at as a “welfare” benefit but as a means for those that are in need to have to survive. Get these programs away from the “government welfare” programs so that they are not cut when the others are. This should be a stand alone program geared toward helping those that cant help themselves.

      • Susan

        The problem is in one word of your statement….”This should be a stand alone program geared toward helping those that “can’t” help themselves.” The problem in this society is, and thanks to government hand-outs, the new norm is people who WON’T help themselves. There is tons of fraud in all government programs but no one can be bothered to go after it. It takes all the staff they have just print checks and lick envelopes. Sounds to me like SSI could employ nothing but disabled folks. .

      • Marti


      • Kathleen

        Excellent response. We need to fix areas where those who don’t really need it or are not disabled, are receiving it. Lawyers are great at putting info in individuals minds as far as what they “deserve”.

        • Merl

          Too many instances of lawyers getting “disability” for non-disabled. Since the NAFTA was passed, jobs for unskilled and low educated are scarce (and even more so with illegals being given the jobs over American citizens). There are several men in my community that draw disability with no visible ( mental or physical) handicap or disability. they couldn’t find jobs when the textile plant outsourced to Mexico and Taiwan. So when their unemployment ran out, they gave up, got a lawyer and ta da, 2 years later, disability checks every month. One actually said he played he was mentally violent so the judge would think he was incapable of holding a job. Some way of distinguishing the fraud from the real, needs to be found. Also he has not had one single revisit to see if he was capable of working, either. In other words he was never interviewed again. Now he is a fat, lazy, sorry good for nothing drawing a check that frankly I think he never should have had from day one. LAWYERS! If they had scruples, maybe a lot of people would be working who are now just plain lazy.

          • JNewYork

            Why haven’t you submitted a complaint to your local office or on the 800 phone line?
            Don’t be angry, let them investigate.

      • Kathleen

        I meant my response to reply to Francis Catania.

      • Lee

        Whatever is decided, I feel that the program should have clear enough rules that a person does not have to hire a lawyer to apply for the benefits. Right now 80% of applicants are denied and have to have a lawyer to appeal, the cost of the lawyer eats up the benefits that the person needs. My son is 21 and had an accident that he lost his leg, when I discussed it with SSI, they told us yes apply – he will get accepted – it took over three months and he was rejected. He did work for 4 years prior to this so yes he did contribute to the fund. He was more interested in the programs that would have been available to him to learn to stand alone and earn a wage for the rest of his life. Yes, I understand that there is a lot of fraud, but a lost leg is tough to fake. When you have people that want to learn and move forward, but need help to start that process we should be able to help them.

        • Merl

          Seems another broken system. I am sorry your son lost a leg, too. A system that KNOWS and yet denies, ONLY for you to have to pay a lawyer, really is flawed. these are the differences that should be an easy acceptance. Maybe the people that are hired to make those decisions should be re evaluated. (oops, I forgot. A government employee cannot be fired)

      • Colleen H.

        Very well stated and I am in total agreement with everything said! Great Job…..I give it A+

    • Kathy

      I agree. Those who don’t work. Need training. It disability. And ones entire work history should be considered.

    • LoveLife

      The below scenario depicts that even working 10 to 20 years of your life can not guarantee that you qualify for SSDI. That is why work credits should never expire. Once earned, always qualify. Work credits should never expire.

      Individual started working at age 15. At age 46, health issues caused them to have problems working full time. Individual puts in for SSDI at age 51, after going through Vocational Rehabilitation for 5 years and VR determines that due to the individual health problems that they are unable to help them find any gainful employment and that the individual should file for SSDI. The individual files for SSDI and is found disable but unable to get benefits because they have not earned enough work credits in the past 10 years,

      • Ray F.

        Hi! Work credits never expire, but you are correct that when it comes to qualifying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) program, you must be “currently insured” or have worked long enough–and recently enough–under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. Credits are the “building blocks” we use to find out whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for each type of Social Security benefits.

      • Colleen H.

        Nonsense, how can these kind of things happen?

    • carol

      what do you want to do with those people? kill them. maybe some of those people tried to work, everyone doesn’t fit into society or work force which is so sad.
      the USA has an obligation to take care of the people. do you think these people should just die, so USA doesn’t have to take care of them, or what?

      • Colleen H.

        Oh my, how could people be so cruel as to not want to take care of the disabled and poor?
        We are our brothers keepers……
        Shame on anyone who feels that they are all that count in this world. I thank God I am not like that other person, so mean!

    • Barb S.

      I am disabled due to being hit by a truck in a crosswalk. I receive SSI. I did not receive Dental. I paid for my dental work and dentures.
      I was a stay at home mom after my second child. My husband worked and I did all the child raising cooking cleaning shopping banking saving there is heavy responsibility.
      I worked before marriage. I worked up until I couldn’t my.
      Some people at born with disabilities. If they can train and work they do.
      Where are you getting the info that it’s a free ride? It is difficult to go from healthy to a wheel chair or on oxygen physical therapy. Etc. Many are in pain as I. SSI barely covers one and there is no way one could live on heir own, pay rent, and the children? No one can be totally self sufficient. I had to fight for proper medicine, medical, the system in place you are charged for everything.. you have no choices and anyone capable of holding down a job knows Medicaid treats clients as a second hand citizen. You have no idea how many recipients of SSI are kept in poverty and one learns to budget and finds roommates( can’t live alone) choose medical needs over food. Worry ,yes it’s stressful.Free dental? Ha! It costs me $2000.00 for dentures. We qualify for a credit card and it has to be paid or they receive no dental. Unless the dental coverage came from the Catholic Church you go without. Tell me more.

    • Ed

      I worked all of my life including childhood and 28 yr’s in the tree service industry. I am 52 yrs old and my body,bones and muscles are shot. Disability doesn’t come close to giving me enough to live on. I have to do whatever work I can find no matter the pain or conditions just to survive. I see people, sometimes half my age, collecting who could be and should be working. It makes me sick. People on welfare and SSI have nicer homes and vehicles than us who worked until we couldn’t anymore and paid into s.s. It is crap!

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