by Scott Creighton
A month ago I wrote about how I have been caught up in a little known reactionary program approved by the republican congress and our neoliberal republican-light president Barack Obama. One that was designed to “save” Social Security by attacking disabled people and kicking them off SSDI benefits in HUGE numbers.
The program of continued disability review (CDR) was ramped up in 2014 when a neoliberal panel of technocrats were appointed to figure out how to “save” Social Security. What they decided to do was pump 1.4 billion EXTRA DOLLARS into the review program and speedily kick untold thousands of people off disability just as quickly as humanly possible.
Like I said, I wrote about this a month ago when it happened to me. I provided evidence showing how the Administrative Law Judge in my case (Judge Weakley) DELIBERATELY omitted critical information in my case in order to justify kicking me off disability. I showed how he acknowledged the fact that I was still suffering from physical ailments that made me disabled in the first place and acknowledged the fact that his own employment expert witness said that she “didn’t know” how many job openings she listed across the country as “potential” employment opportunities for me would hire me given the restrictions both she and Judge Weakley admit I would be limited by. When asked by Judge Weakley if ANY of those job opportunities would remain an opportunity if I followed the treatment plan PRESCRIBED by my doctors, her answer was “no”
Judge Weakley omitted that part of her testimony from his final decision and found that in spite of the PEs and DVTs and acute COPD attacks I have suffered from and been hospitalized by since Mar. of 2014, he says I was no longer disabled from that date forward. I take more medication, more blood-thinner, more breathing treatments and more PT/INR tests now than I did back then. None of that matters.
The judge has stated by implication that I not disabled as long as I don’t follow my prescribed medical treatments and so long as I am able to find a small sliver of potential employers somewhere in America (no details offered) who will overlook my serious physical limitations.
So I no longer have an income after paying for disability insurance since I was 14-years-old and I no longer am under the care of a doctor since I lost Medicare as a result of his wise decision.
On top of that, today I received a bill from Social Security, due next week, for the amount of $34,082.80. In the mailbox with it was notification from VCU that I was now on the hook for the full amount of my Perkins loan which I could not pay while disabled. Both will certainly be sent to privatized collection agencies, the debts of which will be packaged up I guess and forged into new collateralized debt obligations or other nifty derivatives to be bought and sold at triple A ratings like sub-prime mortgages were years ago. Both of these debts will destroy my credit rating which has been slowly mending over the couple years which will make it impossible to find housing or employment in the future, if I could work.
Merry Christmas. You’re ruined, you “useless eater”. Now hurry up and die so you don’t mess up the GDP for the rest of us.
In the early ’80s, Ronald Reagan embarked on his reactionary neoliberal economic agenda for America to match that which was being done by Margaret Thatcher in Britain. To start it off, he went after the lowest hanging fruit, the disabled. They are easy to attack in terms of justifying it with the public because they can be portrayed as “fakers” and “lazy” in much the same way they used to talk about the “welfare queens” when they went after welfare. After a couple years, the press got wind of what they were doing and the people were outraged. Eventually congress had to take action to stop it.
In 2014, a panel was put together at the request of the president to figure out a way to curb the “crisis” in Social Security that had been caused when he deliberately cut payroll deductions paid to Social Security for employees as part of his ‘compromise” plan a couple years earlier.
The actions of the president created a crisis and the crisis was then seized upon to justify an attack on the disabled.
The press had been pushing the idea of the “failing” Social Security program for months in 2013 and complicit congressmen were doing their level best to start some kind of program to “fix” the problem. Immediately the focus was on disability. Read this, this and this.
(At this point, it should be noted: “(The Nazis) first went after the disabled in 1933. The “useless eaters” as they called them…. In 1933.. the Third Reich also stepped up its propaganda against people with disabilities, regularly labeling them “life unworthy of life” or “useless eaters” and highlighting their burden upon society. Just a few years later, the persecution of people with disabilities escalated even further..” People With Disabilities, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website)
The quote I posted above is from the Dec. 2014 study “2014 Disability Policy Panel: Continuing Disability Reviews” it is the instrument by which congress and the president were allowed to pump an additional $1.4 billion annually into the CDR system so they could kick disabled people out into the street as fast as humanly possible.
Notice what it says about the Reagan administration and how they first targeted the disabled… just like the Nazis did in ’33.
In early 2015, Kathy Ruffing, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote:
‘An expert panel recommends sensible steps to strengthen program integrity in Social Security’s Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs so that disability benefits go only to eligible people and in the correct amounts. The panel, appointed by the Social Security Advisory Board, has outlined improvements in continuing disability reviews (CDRs) as well as other program-integrity tools in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) kit.
CDRs — regular follow-ups of DI and SSI beneficiaries to weed out those who’ve recovered enough to work — lead to termination of benefits in a minority of cases. About 6 percent of CDRs conducted in 2012 led the agency to stop benefits, though the rate was much lower for adults and higher for children (whose medical conditions tend to be more changeable).” Kathy Ruffing
This is an important statistic. Trying to find out what the number has been increased to over the past couple of years is difficult but I will endeavor to find them.
My judge, Judge Wallace E Weakley, has dismissed 26% of all of the disability cases that came before him, approved 32% and denied 42%. Those are reviews and new cases. His actions have generated feedback on the website that keeps track of the Tampa office’s work. His individual stats also come from that same website.
The crisis creation of 2011 and 2012 which culminated in the 2014 Disability Policy Panel: Continuing Disability Reviews was created in order to offer a solution to a problem that had yet to exist before they created the crisis. When the Disability Policy Panel was selected, they made sure to fill it with like-minded opportunists who shared their neoliberal, fascist, reactionary ideology… kinda like they stuffed the Administrative Law Judge positions with.
Nicole Maestas served on the Disability Policy Panel. She is listed in the paper. Nicole Maestas also just happens to work for the Rand Corporation. Here are some quotes from her Rand Corp. page;
“Nicole Maestas is an adjunct economist at the RAND Corporation. Her research addresses the economics of retirement, health, and disability—specifically, work after retirement (“unretirement”); how longer work lives could ameliorate the economic effects of population aging; the work disincentive effects of the Social Security Disability Insurance program; and the effect of the Medicare program on disparities in health care utilization, treatment intensity, and mortality.”
The effects of Social Security Disability Insurance receipt on labor supply
Retirement, unretirement, and work at older ages
Her field of study is how to push older people out of retirement and back into the work-force as cheap labor and showing how people on disability tend to not want to work for minimum wage and how that hurts Big Business’s pool OF CHEAP LABOR. Read her evaluation of the SSDI program on “human capital” which she wrote a year before serving on that panel
Also read how she wants older retired people on Social Security to get their asses back to work to “help the economy”
And she was appointed by the Obama administration to help FIX Social Security.
This neoliberal reactionary fascist is one of the key reasons many people are being forced off disability, disabled or not, and back into the work force.
Another member of this panel, Elaine Fultz, wrote a paper in 2015 wondering if we should adopt something like the Dutch model of neoliberal disability insurance:
“In 2006, the Dutch government enacted new incentives and penalties for workers with partial disabilities, aimed at inducing them to remain in, or return to, employment. Appendix 1 provides a chronology of the main policy changes in Dutch disability insurance.” Elaine Fultz
Penalties for disabled people to threaten them into staying off the disabled list and sticking it out as long as humanly possible in the work force.
Holy crap. That’s beautiful, right?
One of these panelists worries about how disabled people being kept alive via the social safety net THEY PAID INTO THEIR ENTIRE LIVES harms the cheap labor pool Big Business needs to stay afloat while the other wonders aloud about what kind of threats our government could issue to the disabled to keep them from filing for disability insurance payments.
I need to read the full report at length.
As you might understand, I am a bit tired right now. I have just learned that abject poverty and the lack of important health care treatments (and medications) are not the only consequences of my current situation. I am about to be financially ruined in a hasty fashion as well.
It’s all a bit much to take don’t you think?
I can tell you this though: if Sasha from Propublica refuses to take this on, I will do it myself for as long as I can. As long as I have a roof over my head and a keyboard to type on. I will not remain silent and I will not be terrorized by the likes of Weakley, Maestas and Fultz as they attempt to impose their reactionary Nazi economic ideology on the people of this country.
What is happening is happening on a large scale to many people across the country. They want desperate people to fill the cheap labor pool and they want to reduce the overhead of the Social Security program prior to its’ privatization so the big banks can keep more of our money in their coffers longer.
That’s what this program is all about and I will fight against it as long as I can. Back in the 80s when Reagan was doing this same thing to disabled people, word got out and congress took action to stop it. Congress started the process this time after Obama gave them a hand with his defunding Social Security program but hopefully enough people will come to see what is being done and demand things change.
Please help keep AE up and running if you can.
(For my mailing address, please email me at RSCdesigns@tampabay.rr.com)