Disability is Real: Correcting distorted perceptions around diagnosis, symptoms, and life with a disability

In August 2012, Kantor & Kantor posted this blog on the unfounded assertion that receiving disability insurance is a positive substitute for gainful employment: http://www.californiainsurancelawyerblog.com/2012/08/ridiculous_to_claim_disability.html

More recently, we encountered NPR’s week long series titled, “Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America.” This series advanced a number of misleading thoughts about living and working with a disability. These include:

1. The implication that people with disabilities are either taking advantage of government assistance or being victimized by it.
2. The failure to explain why people might have the same diagnosis, yet experience symptoms that differ in severity and impact on daily living.
3. A false impression expressed about how disability is actually determined, suggesting that one’s personal physician can make this claim without the involvement of insurance investigations, background checks, medical examinations, medical/employment/financial records, interviews by insurance companies, etc.

As attorneys who represent clients with various types of chronic illnesses, we have come to appreciate the devastating and painful effects of life with a disability. Those who disparage the necessity of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and disability insurance, which our clients depend on, have probably never suffered from a chronic disabling condition nor had a loved one disabled by disease. Beyond the physical impact, our society has a long history in which many people acquire a sense of identity and purpose from their occupation. This is lost when they become disabled. Additionally, this is a space where many social relationships are formed as a result of job-related interactions. When illness forces you to prematurely leave your occupation, this experience can be just as painful and isolating as being diagnosed with a debilitating illness.

Before assuming that disability has become “a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills,” it is important to consider the reasons for the rise in disability claims. Firstly, baby-boomers are aging, and with age comes a host of disabling conditions. Also, during the past 40 years, more and more women have entered the workforce. Although medicine can’t explain why, women tend to be impacted more than men by some severely disabling conditions. Both of these factors will drive up the number of disability claims.

Charles Martin and Debra Shifrin from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) have said that “Disability benefits protect the most vulnerable members of our society, who have no other options.” We couldn’t agree more.

If your long term disability claim has been denied, contact Kantor & Kantor for a no-cost consultation at (800) 446-7529. We understand, and we can help.

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