SSD is a symptom, not a causation of problems

Social Security disability is an expensive program to administer and operate. With 11 million beneficiaries, even with the modest average payment, the overall size of the program is large. This size and the unwillingness of Congress to stabilize the payments required to maintain the benefit payments for both the retirement and disability programs has created the recent "crisis" on funding the program.

The budget deal between Congress and the President means that crisis has been temporarily averted, but the larger crisis remains. For those who dislike government programs, there is a desire to denigrate and dismantle the SSD program. This leads to a constant effort to suggest there is wide scale abuse, fraud and in the most recent case, one Senator's efforts to imply that the program is responsible for an increase in drug use in the country.

He stated that it is "hard to say what came first," people being on disability or population decline in some counties leading to economic decline, and eventually to drug abuse.

Sadly, based on a great deal of evidence, the senator has the problem backward. What happens in many areas of the country involves the reduction in manufacturing jobs, which leaves many older workers out of work, and causes the younger workers to move away.

In communities where much of the work was blue collar and manual labor, many of these workers suffered injuries, which either were never treated or were inadequately treated. This leaves these workers likely to suffer a work-ending injury as they age.

And the recent increase in heroin use has been tied to the increase in the use of opioid painkillers, which have been over-prescribed in the last two decades. Addicted to the prescribed drugs, some individuals resort to heroin once they can no longer obtain or afford their prescription painkillers

The decline in employment and the population of many counties in the nation is a difficult and complex topic, however, attempting to discredit SSD and the program's beneficiaries by making them to blame for these problems is inexcusable.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Tom Cotton Explores Link Between Disability Benefits, Heroin Epidemic," Arthur Delaney, November 9, 2015

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