Recently, I spent many hours reading Karl Denninger’s insightful Market Ticker (see my ‘UK Libertarian and Other Sites of Interest’ in the left hand column), catching up on this year’s posts and comments.

I’ll go into some of Denninger’s insights on gun control at some point in the future. However, first, a post of his about the dramatic increase in disability benefits among Americans, especially those who are unemployed or have dubious chronic conditions:

The program blew $124 billion last year, with more than 10 million “beneficiaries.”

Many honest people find that, when it comes to claiming disability, the procedures and interviews are arduous. This is not restricted to the United States; it occurs in the UK, France and other Western countries.

Please note that this is in addition to standard welfare and family assistance benefit claimants, such as (a European example):

America is turning into France, welfare wise…

… women in France are paid welfare the moment they are pregnant and they can even get free government houses… so a lot of immigrants come in France and just have babies and are making 50 000+ euro a year with a free house.

That’s very true. There are frequent articles in the press and in French fora about dole claimants. The family assistance offices are normally near the city centres. I’ve seen the one in Cannes and was shocked. There were very few French (ancestrally speaking) people milling around outside. All the rest were relatively recent arrivals.

However, back to the United States and the problem of disability claims. One of Denninger’s readers said that it was very difficult to receive disability benefit for a legitimate illness. Another reader, Flaps10, replied about welfare in general (emphases mine):

You obviously tried to get in through the front door.

In my early 20′s I lived in an inner city area of Portland, OR with my kid’s mom (prior to having kids). We were dirt poor. We met some neighbors who had four kids and were straight up FSA crowd.

They knew the ins and outs of getting welfare, WIC, section 8 housing – the works. “It’s damn near a full time job” they’d say. They knew what to say to the social workers (e.g. the father of the kids didn’t live there) and what to declare and what to deny.

They were good friends but that was my first exposure to FSA mentality. 15 years later I was divorced and single father of my three boys, and their mom went full on FSA just like she’d been taught by our neighbors. She even had the fire department bring toys at Christmas. I was disgusted.

Another reader, Killersdad, explained more about this mentality when involving disability claims:

They keep going to different MDs until they find one that will sign off.

Or they network with other FSA members to find the “right” Doctor.

Have ex friends that pulled the mental bull****. I could not believe how easy it was. They learn which buttons to push.

The stories I could tell …

However, it is relatively straightforward for people to claim disability for the following –

Depression:

Aztrader: The issue of what is a disability has become the scam. Being depressed is the easiest one to fake. Once a person has been approved for disability, then they qualify for medicare after 1 year. Add in minor children and the payments increase substatially. Each kid under the age of 18 gets between 50% and 80% of mom or dad’s payment. They basically copied the same benefits from the death of a parent and this can really kick up the money received for the family.

Asthma:

Banditfist: I was talking with my girlfriend this weekend. She is an allergist, so she sees a lot of asthma patients. She told me that you would be amazed at how fast the disablility paperwork comes in when a kid is diagnosed with asthma. The mom claims that she cannot work because she needs to take care of the kid. My gf has yet to sign off on the form. She is one who believes that asthma is treatable and controllable.

Going to be interesting when Obamacare goes in full swing. There is a big push for pharmacists to prescribe some asthma medicines….and there would be no liablity on the pharmacists.

Obesity:

Killersdad: Had a tenant, young girl about 25 years old got full disability because she was fat and had mobility problems.

Snowman: It appears the SSA looks very favorably [on] “obesity” being a condition for SS disability. At least according this this lawyer http://www.smithdickey.com/obesity.php

The Smith, Dickey, Dempster, Carpenter & Harris law practice site (Snowman’s link) tells us that disability claims for obesity became more widespread after 2002 (G W Bush administration):

In September 2002 the SSA issued a new policy on obesity which it now follows to consider the effect of being overweight in a person’s disability claim. The remainder of this column will look at this new ruling on obesity and disability benefits. The SSA defines obesity as “a complex, chronic disease characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity is generally the result of a combination of factors – genetic, environmental and behavioral.” The SSA uses a scale called the Body Mass Index (BMI) which was developed by the National Institute of Health to classify obesity in adults …

The SSA has three levels of obesity. Level I is for people with a BMI of 30-34.9; Level II is for people with a BMI of 35.0 -39.9, Level III is for people with a BMI of above 40. Joe’s BMI of 35 puts him at Level II. People at the Level III of BMI are described as having “extreme” obesity with the greatest risk of developing obesity related health problems

The SSA generally accepts the opinion of the claimant’s treating physician to establish a diagnosis of obesity. Obesity is considered by the SSA over a period of time. Temporary weight losses are not considered a cure for obesity. Even though obesity no longer has its own Listing to determine disability, the SSA can find that a person equals another listing as a result of health related problems due to obesity. Obesity is determined to be a “severe impairment” when either alone or in combination with another “medically determinable impairment, it significantly limits an individual’s physical or mental ability to do basic work activities.” The SSA does not have a specific weight or BMI rating that equals a “severe impairment”. The issue is whether the person’s obesity is so severe that it limits his abilities to do basic work activities.

As there is no specific Listing for obesity, the SSA can find a person “meets” the requirements of a Listing if he has another impairment that alone meets the requirement of a Listing. The example used by the SSA cites a case where “obesity may increase the severity of a co-existing or related impairment to the extent that the combination of impairments meets the requirements of a Listing.” The SSA finds this combination to be “especially true” when the obesity is combined with “musculoskeletal, respiratory, and cardiovascular impairments.” For example, there is an Orthopaedic Listing under which a claimant can be found disabled if he is “unable to ambulate effectively”, this is typically as a result of some sort of bone injury or illness such as arthritis, but obesity can be of such a degree that it can “substitute for the major dysfunction of a weight bearing joint.” Such a finding could allow the SSA to pay the disability claim of the person with arthritis and obesity.

If a person has a variety of health problems, none of which meet the level of severity that is required by the SSA for disability, the SSA can consider the impact of the person’s obesity with the other problems and find that he meets the Listing. The example used by the SSA is “obesity affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems because of the increased workload the additional body mass places on these systems. Obesity makes it harder for the lungs to expand. This means that the respiratory system must work harder to provide needed oxygen. This in turn makes the heart work harder to pump blood to carry oxygen to the body” …

It seems as if the Cloward-Piven Theory — ‘bankrupt the system’ — has been working since its inception in the late 1960s, first tried among welfare claimants in New York State. (For more on the theory, read here and here.)

We have the same disability claims problems in the UK, some of which are occasionally outed in the press.

By no means should we automatically consider a depressive, an obese person or the parent of an asthmatic child as qualifying for disability. That said, this is a serious problem. Both leftists and conservatives are to blame. As are we, in part. It seems as if our sense of self-responsibility is flying out the window.

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