Friday, February 3, 2017

The Backs of the Disabled and Those of Us Who Shirk Work*

This is the beginning of my Shirking Work days
March 8, 1996

So last night I was doing exactly what I shouldn't have been doing, which was scrolling through emails and Facebook. I was already in an agitated state over the National Prayer Breakfast and some un-bloggable things, but when I read the following article from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), I thought I might combust.

I'm going to cut and paste the entire thing in red because it deserves the coverage, especially to those of you who put us in this position and who might be reading here:

Eliminate Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Disabled Children

Billions of Dollars20172018201920202021202220232024202520262017-20212017-2026
Change in Mandatory Outlays0-10-11-11-11-12-12-11-13-13-42-104
Change in Discretionary Spending0-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-4-9
This option would take effect in October 2017.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides cash assistance to people who are disabled, aged, or both and who have low income and few assets. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 15 percent of SSI recipients in 2016 will be disabled children under age 18, receiving an average monthly benefit of $664. Those children must have marked and severe functional limitations and usually must live in a household with low income and few assets.
This option would eliminate SSI benefits for disabled children. CBO estimates that making that change would reduce mandatory spending by $104 billion through 2026. Also, because annual discretionary appropriations cover SSI’s administrative costs, this option would generate $9 billion in discretionary savings over the same period so long as total appropriations were adjusted accordingly.
One rationale for this option is that providing SSI benefits to children may discourage their parents from working. Unlike Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a welfare program that aims to help families achieve self-sufficiency, SSI imposes no work requirements on parents and does not explicitly limit how long they may receive benefits as long as the child remains medically and financially eligible. Furthermore, SSI benefits decrease by 50 cents for each additional dollar parents earn above a certain threshold, depending on household size and other factors. (For example, in calendar year 2016, for a single parent with one child who is disabled and with no other income, SSI benefits are generally reduced after the parent earns more than $1,551 per month.) Those program traits create a disincentive for parents to increase work and thereby boost earnings.
Another rationale for this option is that, rather than provide a cash benefit to parents without ensuring that they spend the money on their disabled children, policymakers could choose to support those children in other ways. For example, states could receive grants to make an integrated suite of educational, medical, and social services available to disabled children and their families. To the extent that funds that would have been used to provide SSI benefits for children were instead used for a new program or to increase the resources of other existing programs, federal savings from this option would be correspondingly reduced.
A rationale against this option is that this program serves a disadvantaged group. SSI is the only federal income support program geared toward families with disabled children, and SSI benefits reduce child poverty rates. Families with disabled children are typically more susceptible to economic hardship than other families because of both direct and indirect costs associated with children’s disabilities. (Direct costs can include additional out-of-pocket health care expenses, spending on adaptive equipment, and behavioral and educational services. Indirect costs for the parents of disabled children can include lost productivity and negative health effects.)

I'm calling out not just Drumpflanders, but Republicans, because literally the second you can, you go for the jugular. I don't give a flying foo-foo about reaching across the aisle or even trying to understand why the sick, the disabled and the most vulnerable bear the brunt of your political machinations, even as your precious corporations are allowed to poison our air and water, exploit workers, avoid taxes, make war and billions and billions of dollars in profits for an ever-shrinking group of people. 

Am I enraged? I am.

First of all, the rationale for "this option" is that providing SSI benefits to children may discourage their parents from working. Sophie gets a bit more than $640 a month in SSI benefits. This proposal would eliminate that benefit. As you know, I have been shirking work for more than two decades and would have to go out and get a real job. 

Even the rationale "against" that option is ridiculously simplistic, stripping everything but economics, the bottom line and the commodification of our children.

The Nazis came first for the disabled. Did you know that? This isn't rhetoric.

Let's say this doesn't happen. What you've done, Drumpflanders and Republicans, is inject the most intense panic and worry, on top of everything else that we have to deal with, into our bodies. Sit with that. You are indecent, immoral human beings if you support this.

*This is a clarification. I am grateful for the SSI money that Sophie receives every single month and use it to pay for unreimbursed medicine, therapies, clothing and incidentals for her. We receive that amount, thanks to a federal waiver that has deemed her care "institutional" -- meaning were I not to care for her at home, she would be institutionalized. In addition to SSI, Sophie qualifies for IHSS or In Home Supportive Services. I am paid minimum wage to care for her at home. I have no idea whether these funds will also go by the wayside, along with the Affordable Care Act. In addition to the entitlement programs, my parents help me by sending me money to help with childcare. They are in a position to do so, and I am beyond grateful and at once cognizant of how privileged I am. I manage to get freelance writing and editing work, as well as have my book salon and other entrepreneurial things. So, what I'm saying, is that I am panicked about the Repubs removing all these safety nets, and I am a fortunate person, at least for now. I worry about the long term future, though, and how I will continue to do what I do. It would be unethical and immoral of me not to use my talents and ability to articulate these things and to advocate for the tens of thousands of families less fortunate than mine. So that's what I'll continue to do. 


  1. Wow! Thank you for posting this. I am speechless as to where this country is going....

  2. Elizabeth, My heart goes out to you, your husband, your boys and Sophie and to the many many families who are in similar situations. I'm disgusted by what's going on and by the insulting, inaccurate, derogatory and demeaning rhetoric of the GOP and most Republicans. The "human" in "humanity" has disintegrated and fallen by the wayside. The love and care that you and your family give to Sophie is priceless and it's the most important component to her health and well being. Much love to you and yours. - Michelle

  3. Every single day I could cry for the things that are happening in this country. I'm beyond disgusted, beyond sick, beyond heartbroken. I'm about to reach a breaking point....and I can't even imagine how it feels to be you, Elizabeth, with your child's well being on the line. I thank God (that I don't even believe in) that I don't have children to raise in this hellhole of a country. I'm so sorry for all you're going through.

  4. Vicious administration, pure vicious evil. How much more, i wonder, will people tolerate.

  5. O.M.G....I am drumpfstruck! Every day a new horror. I won't stop the phone calls, emails or postcards, but maybe it's time for the pitchforks and torches.

  6. I saw this yesterday and was enraged. Is anyone applying even the slightest bit of thought to these policies? Where on earth is the humanity?

  7. Outraged with you, Elizabeth. I am so sorry for what you, and we as a nation, are going through. They are all going to burn in hell for this. I used to be able to respect those with different political opinions, but those days are long gone. I can't believe the Republicans aren't even pretending to fight. Sending you lots of love and light. Thank you for continuing to write.

    1. Burning in Hell is not even good enough for what's going on here...

  8. What's interesting to me, a geezer of 71 who has seen and been aware of political issues for the past 50 plus years, is how actual data and studies done are ignored, previous wisdom and knowledge are deemed invalid. "The Myth of the Welfare Queen" is as valid today as when it was written, years ago. Invalidating everything you're railing against. It's enough to make one lose hope, almost.
    Health issues are keeping me mostly out of the fray, but I have three kids, all adults, one middle aged actually, that are more than capable of keeping up the fight.
    I hope for the best for everyone.


  9. So to me, a very important issue to focus on is not in red; it's the statement "I am paid minimum wage to care for her at home". Such care is exacting, soulful and often hard work. It can't be automated or outsourced, and the levels of trust and generosity and attention to detail that are required deserve proper financial compensation. How this can be funded is of course a huge question, and one that requires national attention. A recent NY Times column on the subject elicited comments that were overwhelmingly despairing.

  10. Well, I knew it was coming. Tho' we never were able to qualify for SSI for the two Disabled Grandchildren we're raising because the 39 years of Military Service my 100% Disabled Veteran Husband earned benefits for didn't put us in a 'disadvantaged' enough range even tho' I had to give up my successful Career to become an unpaid Caregiver and 'shirk work'... I have to Smile even saying that since I'd gladly go back to a demanding Career with pay, benefits, vacations, co-workers helping with all the work etc... winks. I'd challenge any of these policy makers to do the work shirking we do! *LOL* I doubt they'd last a single day and certainly they wouldn't be Game for doing it for no compensation whatsoever to improve quality of life while they're devoting all of their lives to Care for those who cannot Care for themselves! Anyway, after 15 years I finally was forced, due to new Policies in Kinship-Foster Placement, to Adopt both Children... a 3 year process since The Man is too disabled to qualify as an Adoptive Parent... and standards to Adopt were so different than standards to Kinship Placement {for free I might add} that we'd have to sacrifice many things in order for me alone to qualify as a suitable Adoptive Parent for the two Children I've already been raising since Birth! But, we prevailed in the tedious, expensive, long process and now I am Grandma by their Birth and Legally now also Mom by the Adoption... which in itself is weird as Hell! *LOL* Miraculously, because of the high rating of their Disabilities by the Adoption Program for Special Needs Children now they actually qualified for an Adoption Subsidy... Hallelujah... and I've been relieved of the total economic burden of raising two Children on an Adult Spouses Disability Checks, which is making up for at least SOME percentage of the Career earnings I gave up in order to take on this responsibility and do the right thing by putting Family first and trying not to worry about how on earth I was going to manage that! So, yes, it makes me want to spontaneously combust too when words like 'disincentives' are used by these people as if I PREFER having no other, or few other options. I am just waiting for the Adoption Subsidy kitty to be drained from 'the swamp' as they like to call it... so that there will be no 'incentive' for Families Adopting Children with profound Special Needs... what they then do with all of those Children deemed hard to place or 'unadoptable' *Term given to my Grandson... remains to be seen as well!? Thanks for being a Voice for many who have none... I applaud you... Virtual Hugs and combusting with you... Dawn... The Bohemian

  11. Longtime reader, seldom comment, but, I MUST. I began to read The Red with half an eye on supper cooking, but then I literally could not believe what I was reading. What the actual f*ck?? I read, I re-read. English by birth, I have spent my life between four continents, but I have never been as grateful to have settled north of the border as when reading this. I despair for you, truly I do.

  12. Oh the Sadducees and the Pharisees! ... What would Jesus do?

  13. I wish I/we/The Netherlands/Europe could do something... It must be such a harrowing time right now. But I also believe there will be a counter movement so strong, it will right the wrongs. We have to keep believing that. Courage!

  14. It's too sad for words that the US burocracy is contemplating this incredibly short-sighted measure.

  15. I can think of nothing to say that is not obscene so I'll just offer moral support to you and some common decency in Congress.

  16. Disgraceful. Where's their humanity? Oh, I forgot. Already sold to the highest bidder.

    Greetings from London.

  17. Well, dear, I guess you'll have to give up your Bon bons and afternoon soap operas, won't you?

    Who do these dumbfucks think they ARE?! Do you know anyone in the news business who could get your story on the front page? People need to know this is going on and your family's story is instructive, to say the very least.

  18. "get a real job", that's hysterical!
    I've been ill, the bad stuff and haven't read or been in the fray because it caused a vision problem. But coming back to all this is heart wrenching. All the protesting, all his terrifying crazy and nothing has changed, or so it looks to me. Are we any closer to an ethics hearing, an impeachment, a congressional walk out? With this whole SSI thing, it seems we are loosing ground, the tentacles are digging deeper.

    Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me I've missed something really good in these past three weeks, tell me it's changed a little - for the good. What they're doing to Sophie, et al, is fixable, right? Prayers, my kind, to you and yours.



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