America’s broken disability system

I once asked a man in his 30’s why he was on disability. He had fallen attempting to ford a swift stream while fishing. He replied: “Well, the judge said I have a bad attitude, I don’t like people and I can’t hold a job.” Shocking as it sounds, it wasn’t very different from other reasons I’ve heard. “I don’t remember, my Dad put me on it.” “I have anxiety.” “I have back pain.” (In ER because he fell from his horse.)

Physicians and social workers, who deal with more than theories and studies, more than ‘rights’ and ’social contracts,’ know the truth. The disability system in America is terribly broken. As the administration points its finger at physicians who commit Medicare fraud, it would be more enlightening to point fingers at the untold numbers of individuals with false, or at least spurious, disability claims.

Granted, this is a difficult thing to bring up, much less quantify. One will be summarily charged with cruelty, greed or intolerance for merely suggesting that a well-appearing, motorcycle riding patient, on full disability at age 25, might not need government support. Studies are seldom done in the progressive halls of academia to highlight the abuse of a government entitlement. These, after all, fly in the face of our national academic, political and regulatory ideology, according to which the individual is always the victim, and the state (i.e. taxpayer) is always required to be the savior and patron.

Studies aside, talk to community physicians and you’ll hear the stories. Talk to nurses, or paramedics; chat with welfare case-workers. Query police officers. Those of us who work with the patients on questionable disability know that it’s time for the government to do some serious reckoning. Or, as we say here in the South, it’s time for a ‘come to Jesus meeting’ with a large number of disability recipients.

This isn’t merely the rant of another ‘hard-hearted’ conservative. It is the reality of Social Security Disability, which may run out of money by 2017 according to Congressional estimates.

While media sources shake their heads and attribute this to the recent economic down-turn, it’s hardly a new phenomenon. And it’s not merely due to an economic downturn. Disability applications have been on the rise for years, and are worsened by generational worship of entitlement.

Disability, it seems, has become practically a career option for too many citizens. A teacher friend of mine asked one of her high school students what he planned to do upon graduation. ‘Go on disability for my nerves, I guess, like the rest of my family.’ Disability has come to be seen as another form of welfare. If you can’t get work, or if you don’t like your work, or don’t like to work (more than a few of those I’ve seen), then you simply ‘get your disability.’

Granted, it isn’t a lot of money per month. But don’t be fooled. The individuals we see in hospitals are often holding other jobs, or engaging in other forms of non-taxable commerce. And they almost always manage to have phones with data-plans, cigarettes, motorcycles, illicit drugs and alcohol. (And not a small number of children! I mean, just how bad can your back hurt, ma’am?)

Disability should be a fall-back for the genuinely needy. It should sometimes be a bridge to new training and careers for those who can be retrained or rehabilitated. It should not be a terminal career goal. And its provision is not simply kindness to the unfortunate, if they are unfortunately scamming the system. Even St. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, said ‘If anyone is not willing to work, he is not to eat.’

We need un-politicized research. We need to be able to confront fraud with information and truth. (We need a reality show! “Disabled or Enabled? This season on Fox Reality!)

The truth is, this issue matters tremendously, both on grounds of economics and principal. Because fraudulent claims costs tax-payer money in a time when taxpayer money should be held precious. Equally if not more nefarious, disability fraud dishonors the many citizens who truly deserve, and rely upon, money from disability payments.

Sadly, government is too financially strapped, too intellectually bankrupt, and too cowed by political correctness to adequately confront disability fraud in America today.

It’s fascinating that something which is self-evident to many of us is completely shrowded in mystery right beneath the noses of the government functionaries who regularly, and increasingly, approve disability applications in the first place.

Edwin Leap is an emergency physician who blogs at edwinleap.com and is the author of The Practice Test.

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  • http://twitter.com/balts Dr Steve Balt

    I agree that this issue is too politically treacherous for government to confront, but I also believe that we doctors have a responsibility to police ourselves and make sure that we aren’t enabling and facilitating the abuse of the disability system.  Unfortunately, when a doctor says “no” to a request for a questionable disability evaluation, patients will gladly shop around, and will eventually find one of the more “compassionate” (or progressive, or bleeding-heart, or whatever you want to call it) physicians who will be more than happy to sign off on their request, as well as a whole industry of lawyers who are just as glad to take their cases.

    I’ve written about my observations in the mental-health arena here: http://thoughtbroadcast.com/2011/09/04/how-to-retire-at-age-27/

  • Anonymous

    It is because of people who read articles like this who then walk away thinking “most” of those on disability have no valid reason to be on it, that my friend with debilitating arthritis is constantly harassed. Because her disability does not put her in a wheelchair, she is constantly asked why she isn’t working. Because her disability is not initially visibly obvious, she is questioned about parking in the handicap spot and how she got a handicap tag. Because people assume that “most” people on disability are lazy or feel entitled, she gets remarks like “well, you don’t look like you’re disabled. You should be able to get a job”.

    Because of people who believe they know better than the recipients of disability themselves, people who need the assistance are often harassed, insulted, attacked, and generally discriminated against. 
    We should be focusing on acceptance of those with disabilities, not encouraging more assumptions by people who know nothing about living with a disability. I find this article to be very irresponsible to be focusing on the rare few who may be abusing the system when we should be focusing on the social treatment of the majority who are not. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3AHG74DEYZKQBDBNIBGL75FJRM Dave

      Being one of those on disability that isn’t visually obvious, that gets “harassed, insulted, attacked, and generally discriminated against,” I don’t see how the author is being irresponsible to someone like me. In fact, both the author, and you, era4all NOW, can only go off of anecdotal evidence of people who are abusing the system – the difference being the author sees more abusers while you, era4allNOW, calls them the “rare few” (can you back up that claim, perhaps?). The irony is that by stating a naked assertion, you, era4allNOW, make the author’s point that the system needs to do a better job of weeding out the abusers of the disability system for those who actually need it.

      I think removing the abusers on disability would do a much better job of helping the legitimate users be socially accepted than ignoring the “rare few who may be abusing the system”, especially in the current economic atmosphere. An abuser, I believe, does so much more PR damage for someone like me when “normal” folks witnessing the abuser are trying their hardest to find work/keep their job/make ends meet.

      • http://www.facebook.com/john.fullwood John Fullwood

        In practicality in the way our political system works is in removing those who are abusing the system we tend to also hurt those who actually need it.

      • era4allNOW

        If only it was all as “simple” as that. Unfortunately, Dave, the world is not that black and white. You could remove every single last so-called “abuser” of the system and there will STILL be many people who think those on disability are lazy, feel entitled, should be working, etc. Here is another great example of this ignorance in action: http://disabilityblogger.blogspot.com/2007/05/reporting-social-security-disability.html

        To be clear, I am in full support of improving the process and eliminating fraudulent cases, provided that it does not make it more difficult for people with disabilities to receive benefits – which is a real problem that I will address below. What I am concerned about from this article in particular is the way it has been written containing some inflammatory language – which I address at the bottom of this comment. I am concerned about the way ignorant and narrow-minded individuals will read this article and what they will take away from it. Here are the tests for eligibility already in place, to educate those who do not already know: “To be eligible, SSI disability applicants must pass a financial and a disability test” “The SSI disability test (for individuals aged 18 and older) is the same test used for Social Security Disability Insurance and is quite stringent.3 It requires that the applicant either be blind or have a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in any substantial gainful activity and that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or to result in death. Substantial gainful activity is generally defined in terms of specific earnings thresholds and is currently (in 2004) set at $810 or more per month.4 The threshold of substantial gainful activity is automatically adjusted each year for changes in the average wage.” souce: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v65n3/v65n3p14.htmlI’m wondering why the author does not point out that the stringent tests for receiving benefits already deter and cause many who are deserving to not receive benefits: “the majority of initial applications to be denied – even claims that are clearly meritorious. It is easier for the state agencies to deny a claim rather than justify an approval. Unfortunately, only about 35% of initial applications are successfully approved. The remaining 65% are denied.”http://www.newyorksocialsecuritydisabilitylawyersblog.com/2010/12/the-disability-claims-process.htmlThe author fails to specify a solution and yet is calling out for tighter regulations on disability recipients. I wonder why he does not specify what regulations he would like to see and how they would be implemented, especially without further affecting those who desperately need assistance.I find the author’s implication that the rise in disability recipients has anything to do with a rise in so-called “worship of entitlement”. Where does the author get this assertion? Please cite a peer-reviewed study which shows this rise in “worship of entitlement”. It is statements and implications like this throughout the article which inflames hatred and discrimination against the disabled and those who receive government assistance. 
        You ask me to back up my claim that it is a rare few; I can tell you that studies done have estimated the percentage of fraudulent bases to be around 20%. Keep in mind that there has not been any in depth study on this that I could find; these were estimates and probably somewhat guesses. Now, this does show a potential problem in the system and perhaps RARE few is not the most accurate wording; however, the fact that so many Americans treat any person who does not have a VISIBLE disability as if they do not deserve their benefits, I believe this statistic shows that MOST, around 80%, of disability recipients are valid cases. The language in this article insinuates that perhaps most are not, however, when clearly it is the opposite.In conclusion, for all the reasons outlined above, I continue to find this article irresponsible. Recommending more efficiency and working towards eliminating fraud to benefit those who need assistance is one thing; fanning the flame of disdain towards those on government assistance is quite another. There are plenty of articles out there on the subject of fraud already as well; it would be nice to see a few more on what it’s like living with a disability, breaking down the discrimination experienced and the privilege of being able-bodied, and the reality of the process to gain benefits and how difficult it can actually be. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R2IOD2PILAKWUGV5WTM3LSAIK4 The next chapter Lisa

    My daughter is missing a chromosome, has had 2 open heart surgeries and is preparing for a third. She has a syndrome that puts her life hanging in the balance countless times and always unexpectedly. I have been trying to get her disability for the longest time and can’t seem to get it. How is it that these “undeserving” get the inside scoop on the lingo, terms and conditions that apply in order to obtain SSI but my child who is in such desperation can not qualify???? I have been filling out papers, gathering medical info, and obtaining info for months trying to get her approved. It’s like a full-time job! One would think that missing a chromosome or having a cardiac defect that will require 4-5 open heart surgeries in her life would be good enough. Or maybe the fact that she is not even able to attend school due to the severity of her illness, let alone get a JOB…where is the common sense in this system? 
    I too have been attacked for using a handicap parking spot while my daughter was recovering from an open-heart, was hooked up to a backpack that contained TPN (IV nutrition) hooked up to a Port in her chest, as well as another back pack filled with food for her g-tube connected to her belly. Who questioned me??? An old lady with a $9.99 drug store cane. UGH!

  • david.gillon

    I sail, I go white water rafting, I fly gliders, I did draw the line at jumping off a mountain (even with parachute attached), but I’ll try most anything once. I’m also living on the UK’s version of disability due to ‘a bad back’. Wrong? Not at all, the problem is that disability is much more complex than the author of this article would have you believe.

    I may be able to do all of these apparently strenuous activities, but I’m typing this lying down because I can’t bear to sit for more than a few minutes. Similarly I can’t bear to stand for even shorter periods of time, and struggle to walk with crutches. We’re at the ‘Well clearly something’s not right’ and head-scratching stage of diagnosis as similar limitations now start to affect my arms. Those activities I described above represent a once a year blowing out the window of all the pacing and self-limiting my disability involves to give myself a holiday with friends, – full speed ahead and damn the consequences. And there are consequences, a month staggering around barely able to think straight after this years trip, anything up to a full year recovering from previous holidays.

    I don’t want to be out of work, I worked for 20-odd years developing fighter aircraft and airliners, if you’ve flown 777 I’m one of the people keeping you in the air, but now that I can’t stand and I can’t sit and I’m often in so much pain that I can’t think straight, just what job does the good doctor believe I should be doing?

    Meet me and you’ll see only the crutches, you don’t see the far more disabling invisible disability. I would hope that a doctor would be more open to realising that disability may be more than he can see, but sadly experience has taught me that doctors can be even worse than the public at failing to understand the impact of disability (and occupational health doctors are often worst of all).

    Disability is more than people can see, but disabled people are an easy target for those with a political agenda. That agenda is being played for all it is worth in the UK, and we can see the consequent rise in the disability hate crime statistics. ‘And do no harm’ anyone? Ultimately it’s up to you, take the line that people with disabilities are slacking fraudsters at face value, or wonder how much of the disability you aren’t seeing.

  • Edwin Leap

    I understand the statements here.  Sometimes we’re wrong.  That’s humanity for you.  But what are you saying, folks?  Since I can’t be inside you, I can’t judge you, and therefore I should always say ‘No matter what you can do, if you feel too disabled to work, you deserve a check that is a portion of the productivity of someone else.’  I agree that many, many individuals need help.  However, we cannot blind ourselves to the very real human propensity to lie, to cheat, to try to obtain something for nothing.  Or have we decided that it’s like the pain scale; entirely subjective.  If I decided, tonight, working in my emergency department, that I was too emotionally over-wrought by years of emergency medicine to continue to work, would you be willing to sign my disability papers?  And if not, who are you to judge?  I fear we have come to worship feeling as the ultimate indicator of need, rather than objective findings.  And isn’t medicine, as a science, supposed to at least pretend to have some clinical objectivity?  By that standard, if you can lift a motorcycle and ride a horse, why can’t you lift a box?  Or drive a truck?  What am I missing here?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2LRZNHDZS6DU45WQ567LPQ7CMI ninguem

      Dr. Leap, or anyone else interested, check out this Wall Street Journal article on the subject.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704681904576319163605918524.html

      Judges with nearly 100% disability approval rates, in cahoots with local disability lawyers. There’s a graph attached “judicial outliers”,  see the approval rates of various judges, it’s……..educational.

      You ask me, that’s where the problem lies with disability.

    • Anonymous

      Yes and no, Edwin. No, I don’t believe anyone should judge others when not fully understanding their situation. Gather all of the facts first, at the very least. Have some compassion. And certainly my gathered statistics show that the majority are not lying to get disability benefits, so use the facts when you receive them. I think you hit the nail right on the head: yes, I would sign your disability papers if I was a medically trained professional who deemed you unable to work due to a PTSD like problem, such as you described. I am no one to judge anyone else otherwise; if I am not a medically trained professional and do not have all the facts about the person’s life and symptoms, I should not be judging that person. I fear we have come to believe that subjective findings are equal to objective findings. They are not. I think another poster gave a reasonable example of how someone who can be active may not be able to perform work as a normally functioning citizen might. Just ask those with severe bipolar, depression, schizophrenia or other mental illness, Edwin. They cannot function in a regular job, and yet they are able to ride a motorcycle or horse. It seems by your comment that you were missing a lot.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_43HHZFCY6YVN2UQSUF4OVULYSM Steve

    I used to do disability assessments for the SSA as a psychologist. Not only would SSA not pay to do symptom validity tests, when I did them for free (and found about half the applicants failed them), SSA stopped referring to me. They also made it clear they would refer to me if I stopped doing the tests to detect faking. I declined. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2LRZNHDZS6DU45WQ567LPQ7CMI ninguem

      Steve what specific symptom validity tests? I’d like to read about them, for my own education and exams.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_43HHZFCY6YVN2UQSUF4OVULYSM Steve

        contact me backchannel at rubenzer.steve@att.net and I’ll fill you in. 

  • http://twitter.com/balts Dr Steve Balt

    I agree 100% with Dr Leap.  “Disability” has become a career option for far too many people, when in reality it should provide support to the genuinely needy.  And I have indeed observed the paradox noted by era, Lisa, and others, that those who genuinely *need* disability benefits are denied while those with questionable disabilities seem to have little problem obtaining support.

    Government won’t fix this system because it’s too complicated– and a hot-button political issue.  But a good place to start would be the doctors who grant “disability” in the first place.  We’re the gatekeepers.  We doctors have the ability (and the RESPONSIBILITY) to tell people “NO” and instead give them the help they need to OVERCOME their “disabilities,” when possible.  I know lots of doctors (call them progressive, call them “bleeding-heart,” whatever…) who err on the side of defining a patient as disabled because “they live under a lot of stress” or “they could really use the money” — not to mention lots of law firms who are more than happy to help patients pursue these cases.  These doctors are practicing social engineering, NOT medicine.

    • http://twitter.com/balts Dr Steve Balt

      Sorry for the duplicate response; I didn’t see my first one appear.  – SB

  • http://twitter.com/PersonalFailure Personal Failure

    Okay, let’s work out how big a deal this really is:

    according to the CBO, 20% of our budget is Social Security, or 707 billion. 14% of that is disabled workers. So, 14% of 707b is 98,980,00. 

    That does seem like a big number, but keep in mind, $705,000,000 goes to defense spending, and we pay over $20,000,000 just to the Senators (that’s just salaries, mind you.)

    So before we just assume that random ER docs know better than everyone how the disabled feel, let’s keep in mind that working towards just slowing down the war machine would be a far bigger savings.

  • Edwin Leap

    Well, I suppose I could be characterized as a random ER doc.  In much the same way as one might be referred to as a random reader or random commenter.  And by that argument, also, none of us (unless we are the disabled) have anything to say about it except:  ‘Here’s your check.’  On the other hand, I’ve been a ‘random ER doctor’ at the same hospital, with the same group of physicians and the same patient population, for 18 years.  I know my community and I see trends.  I’ve seen kids, the same kids, from birth to now early adulthood.  Even though I’m a random doctor, I actually pay attention to my patients and to trends.  And if I’m too blind, or ignorant, to make an assessment about whether a man disabled for back pain should be able to lift a 1000 pound motorcycle, then perhaps I shouldn’t be evaluating cardiac chest pain either.  As for the military budget, it is large.  And without doubt, we should be more discerning about it.  And I’d be delighted to cut the salaries and benefits of politicians.  But we are irresponsible if we don’t ask about fraud.  Would anyone feel the same ‘whatever’ attitude about Medicare fraud perpetuated by physicians?  I mean, it’s probably a small part of the overall budget losses.

  • Anonymous

    As one who has an invisible disability that is the subject of alot of misunderstanding but who is not getting disability benefits, I totally agree with you regarding the points you made about this article.

    Also be careful about assuming that just because someone has a so called luxury item that they are gaming the system.   That is extremely unfair and judgmental as you don’t know the circumstances as to how they may have obtained it.

    Yesterday, I was wearing an expensive necklace that a relative had given to me as a birthday present many years ago.   But after telling the doctor’s office yesterday that I didn’t have health insurance, I am sure someone might have made the unfair assumption that I didn’t have my priorities straight due to my wearing this jewelry.

    Additionally, I wish doctors had as much passion about the fact that many people on psych meds feel that the drugs have worsened their cognitive abilities which can possibly be the cause of increased disability claims.  One person on another web site has written several posts about how when she complained to her doctor about the bipolar meds she was on were making things worse, the doctor said she had to lower her expectations.

    This person valued earning a living and because the meds weren’t helpful, she got off of them in spite of encountering severe resistance from her physician.

    Anyway, I would like to see more articles about that but I know I am living in fantasyland.

  • dave courtney

    Dr Leap, I’ve worked as a civil servant for most of my adult life – there were, though, about 10 years in the private sector gaining insight into how big businesses are run (Hertz and Ford in the ’80s and ’90s).  Throughout my civil service career, most of it with Social Security in field offices, I’ve experienced first-hand how individuals “game” the system and I have extensive, many years’ experience administering the Supplemental Security Income program.  The numbers of “gamers” has stayed fairly constant over the years as a percentage of the population.  So, in a sense, there are just as many “fraudsters” today as there were 40 years ago – as a percentage of the population.  If I detect “fraud or similar fault,” I am required to report it…and trust me, I do.  You have the luxury of hiding behind patient privilege and then sniping at the system for being “ill-equipped” to handle the problem or talking about how the system is broken.  Now, don’t get turned off by that accusation.  Here’s the rest of the story because I’m not an apologist for nor defender of what you call “the disability system.”  Laying aside what might be considered the “good” that “the system” does, I’ll focus on what the system does to protect itself from the “gamers.”

    The initial application and its processing are possibly the largest hurdles to cross before entering into the maze of medical mumbo jumbo that forms the bastion of support for the final determination: whether it’s to find for or against disability.  If the claimant has seen more than one medical professional – in whatever capacity – it is almost inevitable (on the order of 80% nationwide and in some regions of the country 100%) that if the claim goes before an administrative law judge it will be approved.  Now, I could conclude, incorrectly, that the medical system is broken and needs to be fixed so that it makes consistent diagnoses regarding the medical condition of the individual and as a consequence combat the verbal assault that the legal profession brings to bear on the issue.  Or I could conclude that the administrative law judges need to “get a clue” but that, too, would be incorrect because they only deal with the facts of the case – “facts” provided by the medical profession.

    The two-step process before a claim goes to an administrative law judge is where the medical profession must get its “ducks in a row.”  The “two-step process” is 1. the initial claim; and 2. the reconsideration.  These are the only places where the medical profession must nail the diagnosis and explain in no uncertain terms that the individual is NOT disabled.  Medical professionals must not hold out hope that the individual is disabled or hint or equivocate.  Because if it gets past the second step, the medical profession is up against nearly impossible odds.

    Disability fraud can be reduced significantly by not allowing those who are not disabled in the first place to ever be approved and most – the vast majority – of the disability claims are denied.  Straightforward, clear, and concise diagnoses provide those who must make disability determinations with the best tools in their toolbox when they weigh all of the factors before concluding that an individual is or is not disabled within the meaning of the law.

    If the medical profession “gets wind of” an individual who is filing for some kind of disability, the medical professionals are on notice that they have it within their own power to provide the evidence needed to support a determination of disability or non-disability.

  • Anonymous

    Such people number among Ayn Rand’s “looters.”

    Sadly, they make it hard for the “real deal” people to access the system that was actually built for them.  I recall from my early private practice days a man who was very badly psychotic.  His parents had retained him on the family welding business payroll through his adult life, and had set him up to live in a simple cottage on the property.  Had a few psychiatric hospitalizations during psychotic decompensations.  Paid into the SS system throughout his life, maxing out his contributions.

    Moved with his elderly, retired parents to Florida, after which he psychotically decompensated further.  Antipsychotic meds helped some (not quite enough), but then he developed unstable angina.

    So, for the first time ever, only a few years from his “retirement” eligibility, the parents, in failing health, submitted an application for disability on his behalf.

    He was rejected.

    Another badly psychotic patient of mine had a telephone interview with a bureacrat armed with a checklist questionaire.  Because he verbally professed functionality in areas where he was clearly not functional (the illness being accompanied by poor judgment and insight), his application for benefits was rejected.

    That’s a broken system.

  • Anonymous

    Another problem … many disability patients were impossible to help.  They needed to come to me for services to legitimize their benefits, but could not improve substantially lest they lost their disability.

    Can’t push a rope.

    I learned to put that out on the table with some patients.  “My job is to help you to be more functional.  If your goal is to keep your disability benefits, it’s unlikely I’ll be helpful to you.”

  • http://twitter.com/sarasteinmd Sara Stein MD

    I like the reality show idea! I’d also like to see an increase in job training including coping skills, social skills, money management skills. No one will hire me, I can’t keep a job is not a mental illness, it’s a skill deficit that should be correctable. Now if only the jobs were out there!

  • Anonymous

    I am receiving Social Security Disability, and have been since 1995 for a variety of reasons, all legitimate. My primary care physician, who seldom approves disability applications, agrees that I am disabled, even if only my back were taken into account. The damage can be seen on CAT scans and MRIs. I don’t ride horses or motorcycles and as a priest, I sometimes have to celebrate Mass sitting down. I am not paid for my priestly work, have never worked under the table and was essentially turfed out of my secular job because of my disability.

  • http://profiles.google.com/molly.ciliberti Molly Ciliberti

    The truly sad thing about this is that actually disabled people get harassed and not believed because of the cases of fraud.

  • Melissa Carroll

    Reality Show – I worked for a pain management office in the 90′s. Our nurse went to a bachelorette party for a friend of hers and they of course had the obligatory male stripper. Low and behold it turned out to be a patient that had been fighting with the doctor to get disability benefits because he couldn’t bend or move in a way that would allow him to work – back injury. She took a lot of photos of him dancing, bending and moving in ways that showed him able to work. The doctor presented the photos to him and his attorney. Needless to say they dropped the case and did not pursue benefits.

    Another story – a patient showed up for work hardening. He had been claiming that he could not bend move, etc. The facility needed to test his ability to go up and down a ladder but didn’t have one available. The patient offers to get one from his truck (thought he could move??) so he proceeded to walk outside in full view of the staff, hopped up on his work truck, pulled a large ladder off of it and hoisted it over his shoulders. He brought the ladder inside and then tried to act like he couldn’t go up and down the ladder.We were informed about the event, we told his employer and case manager and  he had to go back to work. 

    These were common at the pain office I worked at and in the neurology office and we had to work hard to ferret them out. Unfortunately, we also had some very sad cases that were truly disabled with injuries that they would never recover from. The awful part is that because of the thieves above, the honest folks were put through the ringer to get the small benefit they qualified for each month. Its certainly a broken system and the gov. is not looking in the right places.

  • Anonymous

    Our medicalized society led to a denial of medical futility as a notion for curing physical or mental disabilities.  Despite the inextricable link between physical and mental disability, research has been dictated by Calvinistic work ethics as plainly put by Dr. Leap who writes ” if you can not walk to work you can not work.”  Instead of incorporating disability as a phase of the human condition, America’s disability system broke under the pressure exerted by social prejudice and stereotyping of the disabled individual.  Unless society recognizes its responsibility to the disabled individual, America’s disability system will continue to be broken.  Thus, promulgating association of disabilities with gender, race, ethnicity and financial and social status.  The looser will always be the disabled individual.

  • http://profiles.google.com/leejcaroll Carol Levy

    No one has written about how one gets ssdisability.  The first time around 65% of applicants are denied, the assumption being that the scammers will not reapply.
    You do not just have to find a doc who will say you are disabled, doctor shopping is not a help since the state doctors must also find you to be disabled.
    Yes people scam, those with ‘invisible’ illnesses and disabilities, with invisible subjective symptoms, psychiatric or chronic pain for instance, may be able to ‘fool’ doctors, their own/the government’s, but most of the people on disability that I know, including myself, would give their eyeteeth to be able to work. (I have trigeminal neuralgia, a severe and often disabling and debilitating facial pain disorder.)