[nfbmi-talk] dangerous offset

Terry D. Eagle terrydeagle at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 16 03:20:41 UTC 2014

The decline of disabled persons in the workforce is no more demonstrated
than the Michigan BS4BP, where once-upon-a-time blind persons made up 33
percent, or 1 out of 3 agency eployees, and now BS4BP and LARA brag about a
19 percent, or one out of five agency employees being blind.  Is the result
because blind persons don't desire to work?  Is it that blind individuals as
job applicants are unqualified for the position vacancies filled?  Is it
that blind persons simply would rather sit at home in government subsidized
housing, receiving poverty-level government benefits?

I submit that the answer to these questions cannot be answered in the
affirmative.  The bottom line is that the legislators and bureaucrats, the
same officials that propose that disabled persons now be pushed further down
the economic ladder, and deeper into poverty and despair, these officials
have simply miserably failed and abandoned the blind and disabled persons
when it comes to rehabilitation and employment services.  This includes the
agency administrators charged to assisting disabled persons, to the
governor, to Congress, regulatory agencies, and the White House office of
the President and Vice-President, and envelops political types from the
extreme left to the extreme right, and everyone in-between.  They all talk
the talk, and do nothing to walk the walk, to assist persons with
disabilities toward full employment and tax paying independence.

Michigan is a textbook example of that which is wrong with the system and
process designed to assist disabled persons to gainful employment.

First, the system promotes welfare over work, mainly because those persons
operating the system lack belief in the abilities and capacity of the
persons with disabilities that they are to assist.  This is best
demonstrated in the make-up of the agency workforce, from entry-level
positions to top mmanagement positions.  Not only do persons with
disabilities not hold these various positions, in the rare case where a
person with disability does hold a position, they are compensated less than
non-disabled peers.

Next, one only look at the number of vacant or non-existent positions within
an agency at the direct client service level, and it is not difficult to see
a serios lack of priority for rehabilitation servicw outcomes in
rehabilitation.  Unused annual budgets are another serious indicator of lack
or service priority and poor management of resources.  If the number of
persons with disabilities who are unemployed and those  in the workforce
declining, and the munbwes are a true reflection of the crisis facing
persons with disabilities, I would like to know how any agency serving
disabled persons, can ever justify having funds for client services
remaining at the close of any fiscal year?  For example, notwithstanding an
explosion of baby-boomer senior citizens, defined as age 55 and older for
services, the Michigan BS4BP serving the older blind population, had
approximately 20 percent of the last fiscal year budget go unspent at close
of the fiscal year.  How can that be with the need so great to assist

I could go on and on with other examples demonstrating a lack of priority
and lack of leadership in serving the rehabilitation and employment needs of
persons with disabilities, directly contributing to the forrific workforce
numbers published, and outlook for persons with disabilities in the
workforce, but I know this audience is the choir I am addressing here. 

I do, however, propose that anyone, politician and bureaucrat alike, should
have to live for at least one year on the average $13,000 per year
disability benefit amount, without additional funds or benefits, having to
purchase for themselves and household family, the essentials of housing,
food, clothing, utilities, vehicle payment, gas and oil or public
transportation costs, insurances, medical dental and medication costs, kids
school lunches and other costs, and don't forget the internet, cell phone,
cable television, and the occasional travel, vacation, social and holiday
party costs, such as gifts and food and veverage.  I'll bet after a year of
politicians and bureaucrats restrained to living and supporting themselves
and loved ones in this manner on $13,000, we just might experience change in
the rehabilitation system, or a marked increase in the rate of suicide among
those two professions. 

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbmi-talk [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of joe
harcz Comcast
Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 10:56 AM
To: nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] dangerous offset

Senate Toys with Financing Unemployment Benefits with Cut in Disability
Benefits - NPQ - Nonprofit Quarterly





January 10, 2014;

Bureau of Labor Statistics


In the midst of the confusing muddle of statistics in the December jobs
report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost nothing has been written

the disturbing trend concerning the employment conditions of persons with
disabilities. Between December 2012 and December 2013, the labor force

rate of men with disabilities between 16 and 64 years of age declined from
34.2 percent to 30.6 percent. For women, the labor force participation rate

declined from 28.6 percent to 27.7 percent. The labor force participation
rate for all persons with a disability 16 and older declined from 20.5

to 18.7 percent.


The fact that so many persons with disabilities are leaving the work force
reflects just how "rocky" the job market is for the disabled, according to


writing for Disability Scoop.

Conservative critics have been

writing about the increase in the number of persons receiving disability

as a reflection of the welfare state's disincentives to work. In fact, the

number of disabled workers receiving support from the nation's Disability
Insurance Trust Fund

reached 8,942,584 in December 2013, an increase of 1.3 percent from the
previous year, but an increase of 52.2 percent over the decade. The notion

an average monthly payment to a disabled worker-in December, $1,146.43-is a
substantial distinctive to avoid work is hard to imagine, but that is the

that animates the critics.


More troubling was last week's 205-count indictment of 102 New York City
firemen and policemen for participating in a massive Social Security fraud,

psychiatric illnesses over a 26-year period. Some of the alleged
perpetrators claimed

disabilities incurred from their roles as first responders to the World
Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011.

Eighty of the 102 were police and fire department retirees, rather than
current workers unable to work due to their disabilities.


The coverage of the New York indictments has provoked almost giddy reactions
on the parts of critics of employment compensation that the disability

system is one of rampant fraud. In truth, the system is one of stringent
eligibility, requiring recipients to be both "fully insured" (having worked

at least one-fourth of their adult lives) and "disability insured" (having
worked in at least five of the previous ten years), severely impaired

from a physical or mental disability that has lasted at least five months
and is expected to last at least 12 months), and unable to perform

work" (meaning earning more than $1,040 a month-or $1,740 for the blind).

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

explains the growth in the numbers of people receiving disability insurance
payments as due not to a flood of fakers, but to the aging of Baby Boomers

reaching their 50s and 60s, the peak ages for disability insurance) and the
increase in the participation of women in the labor force overall.


How then to explain the latest proposal of the U.S. Senate-concocted in this
case by Democrats, the generally reliable Jack Reed of Rhode Island and

by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid-to pay for a one-year extension of
unemployment benefits by

cutting benefits for persons with disabilities?

This would be part of the budget "offset" that Republicans are demanding in
return for the extension of unemployment benefits that were eliminated in

federal budget agreement last month. The notion is that workers who collect
disability payments but also earn a tiny amount of wages or receive other

are "double-dipping." Oddly, President Obama proposed the same in his FY2014
budget proposals.


A coalition of nonprofits, including the Arc of the United States, Goodwill
Industries, Easter Seals, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the

Disability Rights Network,

issued a letter

last week condemning the offset proposal, noting that less than one percent
of disability insurance recipients "double dip" and receive unemployment

benefits as well, and that this practice has been accepted by both the
Social Security Administration and the courts as legitimate. As the letter

"Individuals who do receive concurrent benefits do so because they have
significant disabilities that make them eligible for DI, and because they

also attempted to work at a low level of earnings but have lost their job
through no fault of their own." Nonetheless,

the double-dipping argument has gained traction among our nation's

including Senator John McCain's support for the offset idea and Senator
Chuck Schumer's declaration that the idea of people receiving both DI and UI

simply "wrong."


The critics of double-dipping are operating under a major misunderstanding
of both programs. Disability insurance and unemployment insurance are meant

bridges to employment, not substitutes for jobs. For the 117,000 persons who
receive both disability and unemployment benefits, the

average combined annual benefit

is all of $13,200-hardly a mammoth disincentivizing alternative to a decent
job's paycheck. But critics will use the increase in the DI rolls and the

of New York scammers to buttress their arguments that it is okay to cut
disability payments-unless more nonprofits than just the disability
advocates speak

up with the facts. They had better speak up fast, because it looks like the

Senate could agree

to cut disability insurance payments today.-Rick Cohen




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