May 2, 2013 at 7:31 AM
Social Security disability benefits
Depression is misunderstood
Froma Harrop does not understand the challenge of dealing with severe depression [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26]. The mental incapacity of depression is real and sometimes leads to suicide. True depression is not merely a “low mood”; it comes with an inability to bounce back to normalcy.
Harrop ridicules a young woman’s effort to recover from this serious illness. The woman shamelessly went to the beach and a party. She maybe even smiled once or twice! Didn’t she know she should cower in a dark room, under a blanket, and never, never be caught smiling? In fact, fresh air, sunshine and social contact with others is an essential part of recovery.
Let us sincerely hope that the next wall of prejudice to crumble and fall will be the one surrounding mental illness.
David Warner, Seattle
Stop blaming the ill for the nation’s economic problems
Froma Harrop begrudges the disabled a cup of coffee [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26]. She writes with disgust that she sees people on Social Security disability benefits “at the coffee shop, refilling their cups in leisure …” How dare they!
I am a Social Security disability attorney. My clients frequently ask me if they will be judged on the way they look. Because epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and a vast array of other chronic illnesses are invisible, my client’s worry that they will be judged on their looks, not their medical records. I explain that the judge will base the decision on the medical records. Harrop has a better system, the “she will know it when she sees it” system.
The ability to drink coffee does not translate into to the ability to work. While someone with epilepsy may be able to go to a coffee shop on a good day, they cannot go on the days they are having seizures.
Unfortunately, there are very few employers who allow their employees to take as many sick days as they like and come in on their good days.
Ms. Harrop also perpetuates another myth that people who receive Social Security disability benefits are living lives of luxury and ease. Social Security disability provides an important safety net that prevents homelessness and starvation, but provides very little beyond the essentials.
It is time to stop blaming the chronically ill for our economic problems. Let them drink coffee!
Anna Kysar, Social Security disability attorney, Shcroeter Goldmark & Bender, Seattle
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