Disability claims — the new welfare

I knew back in 1990 that the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was going to be a disaster.  Why did I know that?  Because I was a lawyer and I immediately started to spend my time doing defense work for employers who were being sued by every employee who had a backache (illegally bad chairs), a phobia (I must have an office with an expansive view of the Pacific Ocean to combat my claustrophobia), or any other junk claim you can imagine.  I only saw the cases that went into litigation.  For every case I saw, there were undoubtedly 10, or 50, or 100 times as many cases in which the employer instantly caved when confronted with the employee’s demands.

And of course, once a person gets that “disability” diagnosis, suddenly the person qualifies for SSI (social security payments, not for retirement, but for disability).  I never did government work, but I can’t count the number of hale, hearty people who were suing their employers for ADA discrimination, collecting SSI payments, and living the lush life, with government subsidized housing and lots of free time for fun and travel.  Please understand that I’m not complaining about SSI payments for those who are genuinely unable to care for themselves.  (Although there are people who, despite what others think might be a handicap, are more competent than most people you’ll meet.)  A moral society helps those who can’t help themselves.  It has no obligation, however, to help those who won’t help themselves.

Handicapped claims are expensive in other areas too.  I’ve written before at this blog about the insanity that is bureaucratic control over handicapped access.  I agree generally that handicapped access is a good thing.  It benefits mothers with strollers as well as handicapped people.  I’m grateful that, when I’m with my Mom who’s quite disabled, I can grab a handicapped parking space and and have her totter up a ramp under her own steam, rather than having me lift her up the stairs.  Having said that, the notion of handicapped access becomes insane when a city spends tens of thousands of dollars to install a wheelchair ramp within two feet of a wide driveway, or forces a school to spend a quarter million redoing a wheel chair ramp because the bureaucrat’s tape measure reveals that the ramp, as built, is a quarter-inch narrower than the building code demands (but still wide enough for the widest wheelchair).

As with Prohibition, ADA was another over-the-top case of legislating morality.  A decent people make an effort to accommodate handicapped people, elderly people, and even young mothers.  An insane legislative mentality creates a world in which employers have to give mail room clerks corner offices if they claim claustrophobia, cities are forced to build ramps next to ramps, and schools have to spend hundreds of thousands over quarter-inch deviations.

In a very surprising move, the latest attack on the insanity that is modern disability law and welfare comes from, of all places, the Left.  Channa Joffe-Walt spent months investigating disability claims around the United States and concluded that it’s the scam what am.  Her conclusions first appeared on the Left-leaning radio show, This American Life, and she followed that with an NPR article:

In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Yet people relying on disability payments are often overlooked in discussions of the social safety net. People on federal disability do not work. Yet because they are not technically part of the labor force, they are not counted among the unemployed.

Read the article or listening to the radio show.  Joffe-Walt’s findings are eye-opening for those who, unlike me, haven’t had a front row seat for this costly, inefficient, discriminatory Big Government bureaucratic travesty.  It’s a reminder that when we substitute government mandates for private morality, everything goes out the window.  How much better it would have been to create a moral culture that sees people voluntarily providing access for people who have true disabilities, but who nevertheless have gifts, energy, enthusiasm, and abilities that would make it morally criminal to prevent them from engaging in the world.

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  • jj

    Won’t be a problem.  You already discussed the solution in a previous post: death panels.  In the name of economy and good government, the ranks of the disabled will be flushed. 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    It was a clever maneuver by them to control capitalism’s profits via the mere mechanism of government terror squads. Of course, one first had to acquire government power for that solution. That wasn’t so hard all in all. It only took the Left about 10 decades. It’s easy when everyone is too busy with their head in the sand pretending the only thing going on in this nation was politics as usual. All the “real bad wars” only happened overseas, people thought.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Small restaurants are driven out of business by the requirement that EVERY SINGLE SEAT shall be fully accessible, according to law, to the handicapped.  It’s not enough that 75% of the tables are available — if ALL of them aren’t accessible, they don’t meet the requirements.
    And we have neighbors in our nice neighborhood who are BOTH on full disability – for nothing that I can detect.  I’m sure they would have a sad story to tell in court, if sanity ever returns and only people genuinely unable to care for themselves at any level were fully supported by the taxpayers.  But, I don’t think that day can come too soon!!

  • Oldflyer

    The folks who write laws must know that every time they do one like ADA they are opening the door wide for scammers.  I guess they don’t care.
    My son-in-law is quadraplegic, and was a big time wheel chair athlete.  He has also worked and been self sufficient since his rehab over 30 years ago.  Several years ago he introduced me to a friend, also wheel chair bound, and also a wheel chair athlete.  I asked if he and the friend were co-workers, and was told that no the friend only worked part-time so as not to impinge on his SSI benefits.   Clearly, they were equally capable of supporting themselves, but one was motivated to do so, and one was not.
    One was content to scam the system, and the system was content to be scammed.

  • Michael Adams

    Laws draw lawyers, like poop draws flies. That’s odd, coming from someone who has always  had such reverence for our Anglo-American jurisprudence. But, whether building codes, “environmental” legislation, work place regulations, even professional licensing, they are so open to abuse. 
    The police frequently arrest people on “firearms” offenses. Nothing more is said; one never knows whether the target regained his freedom. The subject may have been selling AK’s to the Mexican mob, or just expressed an unpopular opinion.  I’ve been up since 0400, and need to do a twelve-hour tomorrow, so I won’t even go into the Waco fiasco, which Clinton blamed upon his victims. and which everyone alive in those days in Central Texas found utterly horrifying.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Not just those living Central Texas….I followed the murder of Randy Weaver’s wife, as well as the Waco horror, with amazement and disgust.  This was the U.S. of A.?  
    I also got into a lot of arguments (some involving shouting) when I d**ned the government and defended the citizens in both.
    The Founders wrote about the importance of a free press, and they envisioned one that was also free of bias for one or another political party, and especially for the government.  The press was supposed to keep the government honest, and make it more likely it would remain subservient to the Constitution.  Sad how that worked out……

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The press was supposed to be the “people”. There is no “people” in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the cable networks, etc, only the Ruling Class. How something like a functionary of free speech became a capitalist robber baron aristocratic social class, is perhaps mysterious and all too easy to comprehend at the same time.
    When local journalists get a scoop, the national journalists ensure that the influence and access of these bumpkins are limited. Same for bloggers and internet journalists. The ruling class knows how to keep control of that power. And it isn’t to allow the press privileges to all the people.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Bush Lied and People Died. Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house. Republicans are in a war against women. Sarah Palin will make your daughters pay for their own rape kits. American soldiers are raping, bombing, and killing babies in Iraq. Afghanistan requires the immediate executive termination of American citizens and Taliban leaders.
    Stopping illegal guns required Ruby Ridge. Confiscating dangerous militia weapons required the deaths at WACO. The child victims of gun violence requires more ATF banning of guns, militia weapons, and illegal guns like at Ruby Ridge and WACO.
    You know, after awhile, Leftist propaganda becomes just a little bit too…