According to The Washington Post, 10,000 people have died in the past year waiting on disability benefits because of a backlog in the judicial system. 55-year-old Joe Stewart waited almost two years — 597 days — for a decision on federal disability benefits, after being rejected twice. In the past two years, the Post reports more than 18,000 have died while awaiting a judge’s decision on benefits. The simplest explanation? There simply isn’t enough money. More on the desperate situation is available at The Washington Post.
A new program in the South Side of Chicago is helping young disabled students make the often-difficult transition into living independently as an adult. Politico Magazine describes it as sort of a community college for special education students. Southside Occupational Academy was created to help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities prepare for living on their own and possibly getting a job. Read more about this unique school in this article at Politico Magazine.
As the government steps up its call to remove more people from receiving disability payments, statistics show that the number of recipients who return to the workforce is small: only 3.7% of disabled workers do within 10 years of receiving their first payment. The Washington Post has more in this story about how hard it can be for disabled people to go back to work.
Robert Fowler worked for 20 years at Exxon, helped run a family business, managed a retirement community, and even worked as a security guard. But an ischemic stroke last November left him unable to work, and forced him to apply for Social Security disability. But Fowler, like so many Americans, feels shame in having to apply for government benefits. His wife lost her job, too, forcing them to apply for food stamps. The Washington Post has Fowler’s first-person account of the shame so many disabled people feel when they have to apply for assistance.
With jobs drying up, some rural Americans are turning to disability to survive. The rising number of those on disability illustrates the widening political, cultural and economic chasm between rural and urban America. Terrence McCoy has more on this phenomenon in the Washington Post.