Generalities: When the House of Representatives voted in favor of a provision which could cut Social Security Disability benefits, it was part of a general assault on the Social Security program which has been manufacturing a “crisis,” a tactic of long-standing from opponents of the popular government program.[TPM] Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was particularly dismissive of the recipients of OASDI benefits, in a comment that deserves as much publicity as can be obtained:
“The thing is that all of these programs, there’s always somebody who’s deserving, everybody in this room knows somebody who’s gaming the system. I tell people that if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting a disability check. Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everyone over 40 has a back pain.” [TPM]
There is no substantiation for the Senator’s claim that 50% of Social Security Disability recipients are “anxious or their back hurts.” None. In fact, anxiety disorders are categorized under mental illnesses, and constitute only 3.5% of all disability claims. [LAT] And, that back pain? As stated before, qualifying for benefits under the SSA criteria is far more than just “back pain, or nerves” Thus, our answer to Senator Paul’s claim should be to declare it the southbound product of a north bound bull. However, this utterly unwarranted attack on our most vulnerable citizens has some real consequences for Nevadans.
Specifics: The following table shows the number and category of disabled people in Nevada who are blind and disabled (and under the age of 64) who would be affected by the proposed 20% reduction in benefits.
*the XXX indicates a number so small that individual information would be revealed if the number/category were published. Source: SSA Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. Table 3.
Nevada Congressional District 1 includes portions of Clark County, and the 27,909 disabled individuals are represented by Dina Titus (D-NV1) who voted against the proposed benefit cuts.
Nevada Congressional District 2 includes most of Lyon County, all of Churchill, Douglas, Elko,Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Pershing, Storey and Washoe Counties, and Carson City. Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) voted in favor of the proposed benefit cuts.
Nevada Congressional District 3 includes the area south of Las Vegas, including Henderson in Clark County. Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) voted in favor of the proposed benefit cuts.
Nevada Congressional District 4 includes northern Clark County, part of Lyon County, all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye, and White Pine Counties. Representative Cresent Hardy (R-NV4) voted in favor of the proposed benefit cuts.
From the table we know that there is NO Congressional District in the state of Nevada which does not have families who benefit from OASDI assistance, and yet only one Representative voted to maintain the benefit levels (meager as they are) for households in which a disabled person, who qualifies under the stringent criteria applied by the SSA, resides. We can do better than this.