Disability system critical

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As a local attorney who represents Social Security disability claimants, I found The Augusta Chronicle’s Jan. 16 editorial on the disability system (“We’re entitled to reform”) misleading.

First, it is very difficult to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. To qualify for benefits, claimants younger than 50 must prove that there are absolutely no jobs they can perform on a full-time basis. Nationally, fewer than 40 percent of applicants are approved at any level of appeal. In Georgia, approximately 25 percent of claimants are approved at the initial level, 15 percent are approved at the reconsideration level and 44 percent are approved at the hearing level.

Moreover, the approval rates at the hearing level have declined significantly over the past two to three years, as documented at www.disabilityjudges.com, which collects public information regarding the approval rates of individual judges. The disability standard is so strict that one in five male and nearly one in six female beneficiaries die within five years of receiving benefits.

Second, the increase in the number of people receiving Social Security disability over the past several decades is not because of fraud or easier disability standards. A recent study by the Social Security Administration concluded that “we find that three factors – (1) population growth, (2) the growth in the proportion of women insured for disability, and (3) the movement of the large baby boom generation into disability-prone ages – explain 90 percent of the growth in new disabled-worker entitlements over the 36-year subperiod (1972- 2008). The remaining 10 percent is the part attributable to the disability.” However, the number of disabled workers approved for benefits in 2012 dropped by 38,000 compared to 2011, which had also marked a decline of 28,000 compared to 2010. The SSA’s actuaries predict that growth in the number of new beneficiaries will continue to decline in coming years as more baby boomers move into retirement.

Third, the vast majority of hard-working Americans who have paid Social Security taxes for years and who now rely upon Social Security disability benefits would rather be working. The average benefit for an individual is $1,132 per month, and for a family, the average benefit is $1,919 per month. Nobody is getting rich from disability benefits.

While the disability system has its flaws and some reforms should be made, the system provides a critical lifeline for people and families in need.

Andrew M. Magruder

Augusta

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GACopprhed
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GACopprhed 01/18/14 - 03:33 am
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Well put, Mr. Magruder, but,
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Well put, Mr. Magruder, but, if you read the Chronicle online, you will see how horribly you are castigated as being part of the problem. There will be those who nay say your statistics as being skewed. They will verbally assault you for being a crooked lawyer and infer that you are just helping lazy people. They are experts on every single thing and in their eyes, they are NEVER, EVER wrong. They only problem is, they aren't experts on anything and garner all their opinions from like minded people who aren't experts on anything at all, except how to whine and cry about "liberal socialists", and how the country will be commie by tomorrow, if Democrats aren't immediately ousted.

OutrageousCitizen
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OutrageousCitizen 01/18/14 - 05:05 am
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Andrew M. Magruder... Good observation and Comment
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Commentor GACopprhed,

Why does every problem have to be framed in political rhetoric? Everything you said was a baseless supposition that birthed itself within the confines of your mind and biases.

Mr. Magruder gave facts that could easily be verified. Why someone desires to call them skewed is up to them. Their comments don't change the facts and nor does your rant change the facts.

When I lost my job due to illness, I left kicking and screaming. I wanted to work, not live on some measly fixed income where I have to pay taxes on my home but can't file a federal income tax return because disability income is not considered EARNED income.

My doctors said they couldn't sign a "return to work" release because if I fell over dead, they would be responsible. My employer did everything to help me. Everything!

The "politics" of Wall Street is what controls America. Not the "politics" of Washington. Do you wonder why everyone in Congress is a Millionaire? They make deals that you and I don't know about. Have you ever seen a poor Wall Street Broker or Investor?

Junket103
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Junket103 01/18/14 - 06:05 am
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Excellent Letter

Thank you Mr. Magruder for your letter above. It provides a perspective from the front lines as well as statistical data to present the ongoing trend. You are correct about the monies. Individually the monthly payments are barely enough to live on for many. The problem, however, is not whether this individual or that individual truly qualifies. The problem is that the system is broke. Without major structural changes to these programs the entire system will fail and the results will be catastrophic not only for your clients and future beneficiaries, but also to current beneficiaries.

The key will be comprehensive overhaul of the services and benefits government provides combined with extensive reform of our tax code. This will enable needed programs like Social Security disability benefits to continue assisting those in need. So far, the citizens of this country, have been unwilling to make the sacrifices that will be needed to sustain the programs that they are benefiting from.

Dixieman
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Dixieman 01/18/14 - 11:52 am
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To GACopperhead:

Your response might be more credible if you knew the difference between "infer" and "imply".

GACopprhed
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GACopprhed 01/18/14 - 08:14 am
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Whoa, there folks...I am a
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Whoa, there folks...I am a supporter of those who need disability! I agree with Mr. Magruder. Come back in another few hours and see how many of the normal posters add their opinions in opposition, or go look at the posts following the original editorial about the subject.

GACopprhed
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GACopprhed 01/18/14 - 08:36 am
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OutrageousCitizen
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Go read the posts following the editorial assault on disability yesterday. People who were on disability were called people sitting on their butts, getting a free check,lawyers are accomplices.

LillyfromtheMills
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LillyfromtheMills 01/18/14 - 08:51 am
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GAC

The truth hurts

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/18/14 - 08:54 am
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Seriously??

"Have you ever seen a poor Wall Street Broker or Investor?" Can't say that I have.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 01/18/14 - 09:18 am
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"We'll Deal With The Government, You Have Enough to Worry About"

well, the disability system does make some people rich
lawyers
it may take more than one call, and that may not be all
but the lawyers do get rich
“The consequences of every act are included in the act itself.”
― George Orwell, 1984
the disability benefit was begun with high ideals, but as Mr. Potter said
"Ideals without common sense can ruin this town."
any system lucrative for lawyers will be exploited
any system exploited by lawyers will be corrupted
the corrupters will then shield themselves with the original high ideals
(see also government education system, government unemployment system, well, basically any government system that involves money)
so easily corrupted in the first place

carcraft
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carcraft 01/18/14 - 09:19 am
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Gacopperhed I mentioned a

Gacopperhed I mentioned a town in KY where a lawyer and Judge hooked up to commit fraud with a 98% approval for disability. We have 100 New Yorkers being investigated for disability fraud. So to pretend it doesn't exist (like our leader in DC who said,if you missed it in the lame stream media coverage, "I don't know anybody who would trade a job for a pay check") . The other issue is the system is running out of money. We can not keep funding and expanding programs and running trillion dollar deficits!

carcraft
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carcraft 01/18/14 - 09:30 am
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Justthefacts. There are a

Justthefacts. There are a lot broke wall street types. There are plenty of people who lose money and go broke on Wall Street. Here are a couple of "Wall Street " sayings. You can make money in a bull market, you can make money in a bear market, but pigs get slaughtered. Don't be the last biggest fool.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 01/18/14 - 09:36 am
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carcraft

Yes, you are correct.

avidreader
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avidreader 01/18/14 - 09:50 am
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Excellent Letter!

Thanks for sharing some insight.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 10:56 am
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Obviously, Mr. Magruder has
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Obviously, Mr. Magruder has done his homework, and his personal, first hand knowledge challenges the AC's editorial of the 16th.

In looking at the thumbs up and/or down, the downs in particular, it wouldn't/it doesn't matter what the facts are; "It is difficult to qualify for SSI", "the approval rates have declined", "[the rise of baby boomers now needing SSI]", the usual conservative critics (at least 5 above as I write this response) are casting their usual negative votes and would completely shut down a program that helps so many people because of the fraud of a few.

But when you can't read/tell a slanted article from a straight forward article, I suppose that's to be expected.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 11:03 am
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"(see also government
Unpublished

"(see also government education system, government unemployment system, well, basically any government system that involves money)
so easily corrupted in the first place."

I suppose we should overlook corporate corruption.

The Spreading Scourge of Corporate Corruption - NYTimes.com
www.nytimes.com/.../the-spreading-scourge-of-corporate-corruption.ht...

teaparty
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teaparty 01/18/14 - 11:11 am
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People receiving food stamps
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People receiving food stamps has almost tripled and Medicaid enrollment has almost double since the community organizer was elected. Why am I not surprised.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 11:28 am
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@teaparty; "People receiving
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@teaparty; "People receiving food stamps has almost tripled and Medicaid enrollment has almost double since the community organizer was elected. Why am I not surprised."

You aren't surprised because you're a typical conservative who just has to say something rather than having something to say.

Bernie Sanders rips Walmart: Why should ... - The Raw Story

www.rawstory.com/.../bernie-sanders-rips-walmart-why-should-taxpayers-s...

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 01/18/14 - 11:35 am
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As more jobless people run

As more jobless people run out of unemployment insurance, they are turning to a last resort to make ends meet: government disability benefits.

Two new studies cited by The Wall Street Journal find that when jobless Americans exhaust their unemployment benefits, they turn to Social Security disability benefits to survive. The number of Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits has risen to 10.6 million since 2002 -- an increase of 47 percent, the WSJ reports.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/28/social-security-disability-unem...

ymnbde
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ymnbde 01/18/14 - 11:41 am
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c'head, your very name is uncivil

for you to call for civility is truly hypocritical
"They continue to address me, even though I don't read their posts..."
ha... busted
start a true debate, c'head
acknowledge the arguments of the other side
then use logic and reason to dispel them
no one here is saying to do away with disability payments
just to eliminate the corruption
are you pro or anti corruption?

Dixieman
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Dixieman 01/18/14 - 11:56 am
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Dixieman sez

I do not even write my own posts and rarely read them, but sometimes reply to them.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 12:35 pm
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@itsanotherday1 Notice that
Unpublished

@itsanotherday1

Notice that your comment regarding those turning to SS benefits after their unemployment has run out has not (as I write this) been responded to, other than two thumbs up ( I guess for the fact?).

Rather, the thread has become inane via the discussion of who and who is not being paid attention to by our conservative commenters, which is not uncommon of them.

Humble Angela
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Humble Angela 01/18/14 - 01:00 pm
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Some people have over inflated egos, it seems
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"Dahreese and other progressive posters....refrain from posting to some of these outrageous, inhuman editorials, and just read. Watch how the conservatives continue to whine and complain, despite the fact that they don't have responders. They really don't care bout debate, they just want to imagine that what they say is pertinent."

The unmitigated hypocrisy never ends...I can't believe he doesn't even see it.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 01/18/14 - 01:14 pm
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HA, i believe he doesn't see it

cognitive disabilities, unlike physical disabilities
are not noticed by the afflicted (not at all in reference to c'head)
but, if he was civil, and truly wanted debate, it might go like this
-starting with true propositions-
some citizens are disabled, and can't work
other citizens pay taxes to help those disabled people who can't work
government programs will always be targeted by people who abuse the system
-and resulting situations-
some citizens don't want to work, and pretend to be disabled
the taxpaying citizens don't want their money to be wasted on the pretenders
the government bureaucracy grows according to the numbers of people in their system
thus the government bureaucracy ignores the pretenders
and the pretenders cast suspicion on the truly disabled
so, how do we make the bureaucracy get rid of the pretenders, and still help the disabled, when it isn't in the bureaucracy's best interests?
perhaps be evaluated by more doctors?
by a VA doctor?
put their symptoms online to be evaluated by a team of out-of-state doctors?
perhaps make lawyers pay for the evaluations if their clients are not accepted?
see? all these questions are quite civil. I even called them "pretenders"
okay, c'head... debate started, quite civily

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 01:27 pm
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"They really don't care bout
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"They really don't care bout debate, they just want to imagine that what they say is pertinent."

Correct.

This thread began by comments over those in needs of SSI benefits.

The conservatives here decided to focus on the fraud of a few over the needs of the many.

Magruder's letter points out that it is not all that easy to get government benefits even when you're out of a job and have no other place to turn to.

He mentions the growth of retirees and the fiscal demands of that on the SSI system.

The conservatives here could care less about those facts.

They are brainwashed enough to think that anyone in need of government support is lazy, unambitious, unwilling to work.

Just look at their comments.

Additionally, I think Mcgruder's letter is a ripe opportunity for the AC to respond with some straight 'facts' of its own.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 01:34 pm
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"Two new studies cited by The
Unpublished

"Two new studies cited by The Wall Street Journal find that when jobless Americans exhaust their unemployment benefits, they turn to Social Security disability benefits to survive."

This means absolutely nothing to our conservatives.

They'd rather focus on the fraud.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/18/14 - 01:37 pm
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""They really don't care bout

""They really don't care bout debate, they just want to imagine that what they say is pertinent.""

dahreese and GAC, I believe this statement is starring you in the face.

"The conservatives here decided to focus on the fraud of a few over the needs of the many."

Oh contray....I do believe you need to go back to the very first commentor and reevaluate. It appears the first comment was nothing but an instigating comment to get a rile out of others.....it was nothing more than the whining and complaining the original commentor fusses about, while in turn not providing even one ounce of reasonable, logical, debate to the subject.

Likewise, you chimed right in and egged him on.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/18/14 - 01:42 pm
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"when jobless Americans

"when jobless Americans exhaust their unemployment benefits, they turn to Social Security disability benefits to survive"

And this isn't fraud? If they can't find a job and their benefits run out....does this suddenly make them disabled?

Humble Angela
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Humble Angela 01/18/14 - 02:59 pm
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When you make a statement as
Unpublished

When you make a statement as to what EVERYONE thinks, you are wrong. You don't need a list of names, you need to stop generalizing.

dahreese
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dahreese 01/18/14 - 02:33 pm
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The conservative position on
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The conservative position on here is that anyone able to work should be able to find work, while at the same applauding corporations that have moved jobs out of the country.

That’s easy to say – if you already have a job.

Humble Angela
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Humble Angela 01/18/14 - 02:35 pm
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If you are able to work, and
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If you are able to work, and can't find work, it doesn't make you disabled. THAT is called fraud.

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