In our last post, we discussed the increasing number of individuals in Ohio who are receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Currently, about one in 21 Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 receive benefits. The increase in the number of applicants the government is approving is good news for the individuals who need support.
However, there is more to the story than just the number of individuals receiving support. When individuals are unable to work because of physical or mental illnesses, it is appropriate for them to receive financial support from the Social Security Disability program, but individuals should not be forced to rely on that support permanently.
For many people, going to work adds value to their lives. Income is necessary, but employment also helps provide dignity and purpose to many people’s lives.
When Social Security was created, the goal was to provide financial support to people were “permanently and totally disabled.” Individuals with temporarily debilitating injuries should be able to receive support, but there need to be appropriate steps taken to help transitions individuals back to the workforce.
To the credit of the Social Security Administration, they have created programs that begin to support that transition. However, there are two main pitfalls with the program.
First, many employers are unwilling to hire people who need special accommodations. Once an individual leaves a job, he or she may struggle to get back in. Second, economists have suggested that injured individuals lack the marketable skills necessary to secure new jobs. Although many people are willing and interested in working at least part-time, they often need more than just financial support to get back on their feet.
Amongst the mountains of paperwork Social Security beneficiaries receive, there is information about the services available to help people return to work. Unfortunately, much of the information provided by the government is not provided in understandable terms, so people do not understand their rights or the amount of help that is available.
Read more in the next post to learn about the Ticket to Work program – they main program designed to transition workers back to the workforce.
Source: New York Times, “Disabled, but Looking for Work,” Motoko Rich, 6 April 2011