The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Thieves Want to Cut Disability Insurance

May 13, 2013

Disability insurance provided through Social Security will be cut by about 20%, starting in 2016. Supporters of this cut say that there are no funds for this program. These people even claim that program beneficiaries game the system and therefore don’t deserve this insurance. What a crock! These are same bare lies propagated to gut budgets of all other public programs, including Social Security.

Working people pay for such programs when they work. Social Security contributions are taken from our wages before we receive our paychecks. If there are “no funds,” it is because funds have been taken out to find more money for the rich.

Disability is actually hard to get, requiring mountains of proof and long waits. Most claims are denied the first time and only granted after the person appeals the decision. To be eligible for disability, workers are required to work one quarter of their adult life, starting at age 21, and be employed in at least five of the previous 10 years. Only 41% of all applicants end up getting disability checks.

The average disability payment is $13,000 a year, which comes to less than $1,100 a month, less than minimum wage! It hardly allows those with chronic diseases or serious injuries to live with any decency, keeping them in poverty.

The real cause for a growth in disability is poverty and an aging population. Only the bosses have recovered in this recession. Many people cannot retire. The one age group where employment has increased is among people 55 to 64. At the age when people used to look forward to retiring, many older workers must keep working. Working longer takes a greater toll on older bodies: more than 70% of the disabled are over 50 years of age.

And even worse, those with the hardest physical labor show the highest rates of disability. Currently, the five counties with the largest percentage of people receiving disability live in rural areas with many farmers and miners–in West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi.

Are these people slackers? Of course not. The bosses have caused 10% of the population to live in poverty. It’s the bosses who keep this recovery a “jobless” one, and it’s the bosses who risk people’s lives and health–as in mining or in manufacturing.

Let those who caused the problem pay more into the disability funds, and there would be no problem with funding!