Planet Money on Disability

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

handicap symbol (tyle_r/flickr)

Chana Joffe-Walt, reporter for NPR's Planet Money, discusses her This American Life piece  on the rise in the number of people on disability.



Chana Joffe-Walt

Comments [15]

Dilki Jay from Maryland

This program was very hard to hear. I can't believe what I was hearing. I am a hard working American doing the right thing. Are they abusing my tax dollars?

May. 04 2013 12:40 PM

The Planet Money reporting was sadly deficient, as is becoming more usual. The amount of time and independent evaluation is much longer in states like NY. Up until a few years ago, it was usual for it to take as long as 6 years or more to get SSD in NYS. After 9/11, application & evaluation times were lengthened due to the Bush Administration preventing National Guard & Reserve personnel from receiving VA disability. Many of those Armed Forces cases were moved over to Social Security for disability evaluation.

Also, in NY cases were evaluated by independent contractors not only for SSD, but also for Safety Net/TANF [welfare] & attendant "workfare" during Rudy's terms.

The inability or unwillingness to investigate past history past data/charts alone and to investigate different circumstances by Planet Money tends to minimize their credibility.

Like many Corporate Media they are locked in the perpetual present as though present circumstances have no roots in prior decisions re; policies, taxes, incentives, etc. Often without knowledge of those roots, present commentary mistakes the present for the "has always been present."

Mar. 27 2013 11:19 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL ... flattery will get you nowhere.

Mar. 27 2013 11:00 AM
Mick from Inwood

Don't bother commenting on "Martin Chuzzlewit" it just encourages him. Anyone who hides behind a pseudonym from Charles Dickens is not only cowardly, but a smug, self-congratulating fool. As such he is just static on the broadcast.

Mar. 27 2013 10:58 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

@Bob from Westchester

@ Martin C.: You might want to actually listen to the segment..."

But then Martin wouldn't be Martin, Bob. His propensity to 'shoot from the lip' reveals that his comments are nothing more than bigoted cant.

Mar. 27 2013 10:52 AM

The reporting in this story was horrible. TAL should be ashamed of itself.

This story is well debunked by Media Matters here:

And by the EconoMontitor blog here:

Mar. 27 2013 10:48 AM
Mick from Inwood

I heard the Planet Money story on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. I don't blame the people on disability because I know what a physical labor job means. I worked my way through my undergraduate degree as a steel mill laborer after my father died of a heart attack at 53 in an automobile factory. Physical labor jobs quickly degrade and ultimately destroy the human body. My comment/question would be, is it really a coincidence that the states with the greatest percent of people on disability and SSI are among the most conservative states, and these are the states that spend the least tax dollars on education at all levels, in order to keep taxes low for the families that have already made it into the professional/business classes?

Mar. 27 2013 10:45 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

The trendline is certainly disturbing and is the reason that the SSD will be bankrupt long before the Retirement fund.

What are the cures? I suggest that anyone 50+ (or possibly even 45) become Medicare eligible after six months of unemployment and therefore can be hired WITHOUT a healthcare premium commitment from their potential employer. I think that paying for their healthcare while making them extremely attractive to employers will stop the discrimination against the older members of our workforce.

Mar. 27 2013 10:44 AM
Bob from Westchester

@ Martin C.: You might want to actually listen to the segment and the story before throwing in comments. The county profiled, with 25% of the working population on disability, is in a rural deep-red part of Alabama, not inner-city New York.

Also, by listening first you might have noticed that Brian is not on today, and thus not embarrassed yourself by directing questions to a host who has been on vacation all week.

Mar. 27 2013 10:44 AM
Ayn Marx 666 from New Hyde Park, NY

Defining 'disabled' in context makes perfect sense to me: a stroke or head injury might leave me about as good at analysis and coding as an average person, but I would be disabled in the context of the occupations I've pursued (science and engineering) after my childhood's manual, I miss that boot-blacking factory.

Mar. 27 2013 10:42 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Please also consider, in the discussion of the "overall economy" and employment data, that there are nearly 1 million people--also not considered in the official unemployment numbers--are categorized as "discouraged," and with a larger number considered "marginal"--unable to find full-time work.

These discouraged workers--unable to find work--are also left behind in the movement of companies overseas or to states that have given them massive tax benefits.

Mar. 27 2013 10:36 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

Please do believe anything anyone from the Manhattan Institute tells you in their house organ; they are completely independent and aren't at all hired by the wealthy to assure them that they must keep all their money because they are the bestest people ever...and one incident involving a shark and a charity in Welsh is certainly enough to refute the necessity for having a safety net.

(I once had a job doing nothing useful to which going, day after day, was the spiritual equivalent of sandpaper applied to the soul, despite its salary an order of magnitude higher than the poverty rate for a family of three; compared with that, flying to Australia and wrestling a shark in the heat of passion to do good were _much_ easier---saving a child's life is not what I call 'alienated labour'...much of the popularity of zombie films comes from the fact that the characters care _deeply_ about what they're doing, and don't have to come into a regular job.)

Again, I think we're at the end of the usefulness of the jobs system; all this social-democratic welfare for the 'virtuous'---and resentment of the scams that generates---is just a set of kludgy patches. Do I know what should replace it?---no, I have ideas, but I'm much more sure that the patient were severely ill than that they [sic] need penicillin or leeches or a good kick in the pants (I'm concerned that the patient might be allergic to penicillin, or be suffering from a local edema for which a clean leech or two might not be a bad idea...and might not have pants at all).

Mar. 27 2013 10:11 AM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca

Obviously the poor and infirm have shown their complete lack of God's favour by virtue of their low state(probably stemming from sin) and His Free Market's decision as to their worth. We therefore must let them starve, or perhaps die of exposure or illness. This is made even more certain, insofar as that were possible, by the fact that some non-{severely disabled} persons have scammed the system, as there is no greater sin than permitting someone to have anything they didn't earn (excepting, of course, that they were members of the Elect---e.g. children of the wealthy, or top executives who've run their firms into the ground---who by their high estate in Society show that they are truly Elect...'To he who has much, much will be given, but he who has little will have it taken away,').

And of course it makes sense to make a job necessary to live even though what isn't feasible to machines is shrinking rapidly; without jobs, people would have leisure and regain some measure of sanity, and start to act as if they had rights.

Mar. 27 2013 09:55 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Brian- Please ask:

Is it true that there are now 11,000,000 (11 million!) people of all ages on SSD (Social Security Disability), a once well defined safety net for a limited demographic, and that 50% of that figure (!) was enrolled in just the last 4 years under the Obama administration???

Is the skyrocketing enrollment meant to hide the true jobless rate?

Are the claims of some that the Obama administration has actually encouraged enrollment and expansion at a time of growing debt and sequestration?

Please surprise us and ask some tough question.

Mar. 27 2013 09:33 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Timely article on the scam that disability benefits have become in western quasi-socialist (coming soon here) slackerdom nations-

Theodore Dalrymple - 26 March 2013
“Sharks in the Water and Out...On the abuses of “work-related stress”

"The story illustrates a fundamental truth about contemporary Britain: it is now a sink of corruption, moral, intellectual, and financial, all of it perfectly legal."

Mar. 27 2013 09:25 AM

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