The plight of the disabled worker would seem to be a settled matter in this century, and Social Security Disability should have caught up, but they haven’t. The rules remain the same except for finding a job for someone who might only be able to do sedentary work.
Social Security adjudicators working on applications for benefits have licensed professionals to evaluate the case and rate them regarding the person’s ability to perform any work. Physicians and licensed psychologists never see the applicants, only the information in the file.
Applicants that can’t lift at least 5 lbs. for a specific length of time may still be seen as able to do sedentary work, and here’s where the cards are stacked against them.
The Dictionary of Occupational titles, last updated in 1977, lists over 12,700 jobs many available for unskilled, sedentary workers at that time. Among the jobs are shoe sole gluer, fish scaler, nut sorter, dowel inspector, and egg processor. Where in the US do we have people gluing soles on shoes or sorting nuts?
A pinball machine repairer is still available, but how would a person with sedentary issues be able to do that? The jobs are still listed as existing here, and adjudicators see that as a valid reason to deny benefits to a disabled person. Shouldn’t the listings be updated? Who’s responsible for that?
Some people receive benefits who can do other than sedentary work and be employed in a variety of jobs. I recall a man that field workers found lying under his truck doing repairs on it. Another man was engaged in a home repair business, a third was pulling a boat trailer, and the list continues.
How do I know about this? I worked as a medical consultant for Disability for over a decade, and I attended meetings where they pointed out recent fraud. Adjudicators told me about the old job listings they were using to deny benefits, and as long as they were in that book, they were used.
Those who knew they didn’t deserve benefits know one thing that protects their fraudulent claims; many states may have only two field inspectors to check up on questionable claims.
How does Disability know about these claimants? It’s simple; someone reported them to Social Security. As far as I know (from my years working there), there are no regular visits to check up on those receiving benefits. A paper trail tracks some on a one, three, or never basis according to their assigned disability rating. The last are those seen as rated with no medical improvement expected, such as terminal cancer or, perhaps, another terminal illness that will result in death within one year.
Reports may prompt the inspectors to make a trip out into the field. Nosey or unhappy neighbors and vigilant citizens keen to report fraud are the banes of those who are inappropriately collecting benefits. No reports might mean a cursory trip occasionally to check up on someone. Otherwise, various forensic methods will be used to catch the fraudsters.
Think how many people have been denied because they couldn’t find a fish scaling job. Also, think about the stress, the endless hours of trying to contact someone to help, or the process of giving up in depression. Isn’t it enough that they want to work and can’t? How demeaning is that?
Don’t we determine our self-worth by how we contribute to society or our families? Being pushed aside like this is saying the disabled are worthless, and that’s not as bad as it gets. Some may commit suicide. I don’t have data on that, but it’s not a bad guess on my part.
If you or someone you know has been denied Social Security Disability benefits, you have a right to ask for a reconsideration and a review after that by a judge. Should you not be satisfied with the outcome, contact the local office of your state’s Federal Senator and ask for a “sensitive inquiry” on their part.
You can also contact an attorney who specializes in these cases. Their fee is set by law and determined by how much money (often back benefits) is realized.