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Stop labeling SSDI recipients as lazy

As many in Georgia are no doubt aware, the rhetoric that politicians are using these days -- especially in an election year -- is more heated than in recent memory. And one of the popular targets of people advocating trimming federal spending is people receiving Social Security Disability benefits. But it's important to remind these politicians who, may not think of the consequences of their words, just who needs these benefits.

Many people with severe mental illnesses like depression of schizophrenia and physical disabilities rely on the SSDI benefits to make ends meet. A regional leader of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is trying to set the record straight against critics who say that disability benefits are given out too quickly and readily to just anyone who applies.

The woman noted that applying and being approved for disability benefits can take between 18 and 24 months, and that many times first applications will be denied. Does this sound like an ideal situation for someone who wants to live the high life and not have to work?

Additionally, the average yearly total of benefits puts a beneficiary right around the federal poverty line, which is $10,800 in yearly income for a single person. How is that amount anywhere close to what someone really needs to live a life that is anything more than just being able to afford the bare minimum essentials?

SSDI benefits are not a chance at prosperity; they are a necessary lifeline to help those who need it most. It allows a way to pay the bills and put food on the table. When people talk about beneficiaries as being "lazy," they should think about the real people who need the monthly checks to get by.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "In Rebuttal / Disserving those on disability: The mentally ill need services; they are not 'gaming the system'," Christine Michaels, Aug. 13, 2012

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