My rural drive over winding country roads thrice weekly to meet my wife and bring her home is usually low key, and sometimes interesting because I listen to KOPB, Oregon Public Radio. But today was different. Today I wept.
I was listening to the report from Washington, D.C. regarding the increased number of people applying for disability assistance through Social Security. While I listened, I thought of my own disability that took me out of the work force in 1992. I’d injured my back, upper and lower, after years of manual labor; climbing trees and poles in the electrical industry. I worked as a tree trimmer and lineman, hefting heavy items continually, until one day it all stopped. After more than one exam, the final prognosis was disabled at 42.5 %. After some rehab, pain pills, and coming to grips with the fact I could no longer help friends when it came to lifting heavy items, I have had a fine life in spite of the disability. Of course there is daily pain and occasional shooting, stabbing pain…but that is less frequent now.
The report highlighted a man who lives in Wisconsin. A man who’d worked over 35 years supporting his family and saving money for those golden years. Well his golden years are now tarnished and his savings mostly depleted. The man sustained serious injuries which have left him in a wheelchair, unable to do almost anything. He was forced to sell his home and many belongings. He and his wife now live in a rented mobile home, wondering if they will have enough money to continue eating daily.
Over two years back, he applied for Social Security Disability payments. He was refused. Most applicants who apply for S.S. disability are refused. Once refused, the applicant must appeal. In Wisconsin, the average waiting time for an appeal is two…that’s correct…two years. According to an official in the S.S. disability department, they don’t have enough funds nor enough judges to make decisions on the thousands of cases in limbo.
This is one man and his wife. People who’ve worked all their lives, contributing to this very same Social Security disability fund which is unable to grant him the money he and his wife need to live. Just live!
I wonder if we could salvage the money we need for this program by discontinuing the constant flow of money to countries like Pakistan who have spit in our face while taking billions of dollars from us since 2001. Billions of dollars.
As I consider this crippled, disabled man’s plight, and compare that to a corrupt, insensitive Congress of the United States who refuse to deal with the pillaging of Social Security and many other serious issues such as Veterans Affairs, I am saddened and grieved to stand by and watch the collapse of our once great and courageous nation.
A day will come, in the not-too-distant-future, when it will be too late to make corrections. Too late to turn it around. I hope we’ve not crossed that line.