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May 6, 2013 at 6:32 AM
Disabilities are not always obvious
Many disabilities are not visible and the disabled do not have to be wheelchair bound to prevent them from working [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26.
It’s peevish to chastise the disabled Froma Harrop surmises are able to work, refuse minimal-wage jobs and prefer to “scam” the government with their doctor’s assistance.
The disability application process alone is daunting and most disability recipients require an attorney’s expertise in order to even have their cases considered by Social Security. And her reference to the intellectually disabled busboy, employed by her nearby diner, who was even loved by everyone, is akin to the prejudicial saying: “I even live next door to a black person.”
Geri Daily, Bellingham
May 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Not everyone takes advantage of the system
I was appalled by Froma Harrop’s column [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26].
Let us be clear: This was nothing more than a naked attack on the safety net that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can provide. It’s an old tactic — take a small truth and enlarge it to encompass the entire network.
The small truth: There are some who do scam the SSDI system. This does not make that system bad or undesirable. This attack casts aspersions on anyone getting disability, insinuating that all who do are lazy good-for-nothings.
I am gratified to read letters of support for disabled workers from the likes of Ruth Kimball from Renton, David Warner from Seattle and Anna Kysar, also of Seattle. These people know and understand something fundamental: Disability is not an easy road for many, many people, and the stigma often attached to getting the needed help from the safety net makes it even worse. We cannot tolerate more stigmatizing. In fact, let’s call it what it is: bullying.
Philip Ryburn, Seattle
Harrop was not suggesting everyone takes advantage of the system
Ruth Kimball’s Northwest Voices letter indicts Froma Harrop for attempting to discredit the integrity of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries [“Disabled workers deserve more respect,” Northwest Voices, May 1].
What the opinion article suggests is stopping the disability scammers to ensure the long-term viability of SSDI, not attempting to abolish SSDI or paint all beneficiaries as scammers.
The letter even goes so far as to suggest the opinion author meet some Seattle claimants so she could see for herself that there are no SSDI disability scammers in Seattle.
Since the letter author makes her living defending such cases in court and in turn makes her living from such unfortunate people, I wonder if it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask her for a record of all the questionable cases she has turned down over the years to protect the integrity of SSDI?
David Cutler, Medina
May 2, 2013 at 7:31 AM
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
May 1, 2013 at 7:36 AM
Disabled workers deserve more respect
As a Renton attorney who has practiced Social Security Disability law in the Seattle-Tacoma area for 25 years, I was infuriated that The Seattle Times published this erroneous attack on our nation’s social-safety net [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26].
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries are workers who have paid into the system over many years. SSDI cases are based on objective medical evidence like MRIs, not “self-made diagnoses.”
I invite Froma Harrop to meet some real Seattle claimants who are homeless and without medical care while fighting a legitimate claim, after working 30 years and paying into Social Security. Then she would know that you actually don’t see them at the coffee shop because their modest benefits don’t afford them the luxury of a latte.
Moreover, about one in five male and one in seven female American SSDI beneficiaries die within the first five years of receiving benefits. To question their level of impairment by resorting to a Canadian case is insulting.
American workers who have contributed to our country’s Social Security system deserve this safety net and far greater respect.
Ruth Kimball, Renton
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