Your Taxes, Social Security, and Welfare: The Myths and Realities (Income Tax Write Off)


Apr 16, 2002 (Updated Apr 25, 2002)


The Bottom Line Your taxes are not going to waste, welfare and social security abuse are much less common than you probably think, take care of yourself or you may have problems.

If you are like the majority of Americans, you filed
your taxes sometime before today. They were due April
15th, unless you applied for a continuation. Iíll bet
a lot of people griped about how high their taxes are.
Were you one of them? It is frustrating to work hard
for your salary just to have a big chunk of it yanked
out of your pocket. Meanwhile there are deadbeats out
there, just sponging off the system. Maybe you think
most of the people collecting money from the
government are deadbeats. Well, I am about to give
you a perspective on the system from the point of view
of someone who sees welfare and disability recipients
every day.

In case you donít know me, I am a psychiatric social
worker, employed as a psychotherapist at an
out-patient mental health clinic. I have also provided
home-based therapy to homeless and formerly homeless
people. Because most mental health providers in
private practice do not take Medicare or Medicaid,
people who have those forms of health insurance often
end up going to mental health clinics. (I find it
ironic that in my community therapists charge as much
as $150 per hour in their private practices and also
work at my mental health clinic, which charges as
little as $5 per session if you are impoverished
enough.)

Anyway, I see dozens of poor people every week. I
will let you in on a little known reality, most of the
impoverished people who are relying on ďThe SystemĒ to
support them, are genuinely unable to hold a job. I
am not saying that there are no abusers, but the
overwhelming majority of recipients are truly unable
to live independently.

What does this have to do with social security, you
may ask? Well, it has everything to do with social
security! You see the system has been set up so that
one cannot survive on welfare. I will explain, but
first let me tell you about the history of welfare and
why you should be very glad it exists.

Welfare was first set up by Franklin D. Roosevelt
during the Great Depression (an apt title to us
shrinky types). People were starving and riots were
taking place. In order to prevent a revolution in
this country, Roosevelt needed to placate the masses.
He started the welfare system to prevent the American
government from being overthrown! Think about what
would happen if all the people currently receiving
public assistance decided to band together and riot
because their services had been discontinued and they
were sick and starving. Could never happen? Take a
look at the French Revolution. Take a look at the
Russian Revolution. Thank your lucky stars that
Roosevelt realized what was happening and took action.

Over the course of my career I have watched this
country vilify the impoverished. The attitude is,
ďwe are going to MAKE those deadbeats work for their
money! Everyone on welfare is a crook. Women keep
popping out babies because they get more money for
it.Ē I have worked with these women people think are
having babies for more money, and I can tell you they
are not getting enough extra cash for these kids to
warrant them producing more babies. (My observation
is that many of them are having kids because they are
looking for unconditional love and their adorable
little infants have grown into sometimes unpleasant
little toddlers and children, who have tantrums. A
lot of women, starved for love, get pregnant again
right around the time their current baby reaches
toddlerhood.) I will not get into a debate about what
to do about these women, I mention them because you
need to understand that they are very troubled and are
not deliberately trying to abuse the system by getting
pregnant. However, the system has changed: you
have to get off welfare whether you can work or
not.

You might be saying, well if they are off welfare then
they must not really have needed it. Aha! Not so, my
friend! They go off welfare and go on Suplimental Security Income, known as SSI. SSI is administered by the Social Security Department, but it is funded by the IRS. It is welfare for the disabled, who never worked.

How do they get SSI? Well,if you cannot work, you have to prove it. This requires a process that is laborious and traumatic. Now here is the kicker: if you have worked all of your life and then become disabled, you will have to go through the same process of labor and humiliation in order to get your social security benefits. You will be treated like the lying thief you think most welfare recipients are. The big difference between you and them is that because you have worked you will get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or SSDI, which will give you more money than your never-employed counterpart. SSDI is funded through, and administrated by Social Security. Those FICA deductions from your paycheck are payments into your Social Security account. SSDI pays more than SSI, but aside from that, recipients are treated exactly the same.

Here is the process you will go through in order to
receive benefits. First, you will need to contact
your nearest Social Security office and have them send
you papers to fill out. You will need to have your
doctor and/or mental health provider fill out papers,
as well. This could be a problem if: (a) you are
functionally illiterate; (b) you cannot see; (c) you
are psychotic and cannot think clearly enough to ask
for, much less fill out papers; (d) you are unable to
hold a pen and write; (e) you donít fully understand
that you are going to need to convince someone that
you are deserving of your benefit; (f) you are too
depressed or anxious or otherwise psychologically
impaired to fill out paperwork; and/or, (g) your
physician is too busy to be bothered to fill out
his/her paperwork in a timely manner.

Now that you have filled out your disability papers,
you get to wait for a determination. This will seem
like an eternity, especially because your bills are
piling up and you have spent your last dollar on a
loaf of bread, which is stale, but you got it on sale
because it was past its expiration date.

After waiting for what could be weeks or months, you
will be denied benefits. This will enrage you
and terrify you, especially if you donít have a
therapist who has warned you in advance that almost
everybody gets turned down when they first apply for
disability. I had a patient who lost her leg due to
diabetes initially get turned down for disability.
You will need to appeal the decision. What? You
donít know how to appeal the decision? You better get
on the ball!

You have 2 choices when appealing your disability
denial: (1) file an appeal and request a hearing
before a judge; or, (2) get a lawyer to file the
appeal and represent you before a judge. Either way
you are going to court. This may be difficult for you
if you have any of the problems I mentioned before
when discussing getting and filling out the paperwork.
You will need to prove that you are disabled. You
will need to get your health and mental healthcare
providers to fill out forms describing how badly you
are functioning. The worse they make you sound, the
better you will do. If they are ethical, they will
not lie for you, but by now that is not an issue,
because if you could work you would have a job by now.
This process is so long that you are probably
completely broke by now, so your providers will be
able to honestly say that you are unable to work.

There is a lawyer, who I have never met or even
directly spoken to, to whom I refer all of my patients
for representation at their disability hearings.
You see, there is not much likelihood that they will
be able to navigate this process without legal
counsel. You probably should get a lawyer, too. The
government will argue that you are malingering and you
probably donít know how to prove them wrong. There is
a lot of money at stake, if you win the appeal you
will receive retroactive reimbursement from the time
that you first applied for disability. The lawyer
takes a percentage of this payment. Considering that
I have seen this process take two years, the
lawyer makes out very well if he wins for you. If he
loses, you and he both get nothing, so you at least
wonít have to pay him. The lawyer I refer people to
has won every case I have ever sent to him (I
sometimes wish I could get a finders fee for
referrals).

The most I can remember seeing anyone get from SSDI
(which, as I said, pays more than SSI) is about $1,300
or $1,400 per month. In the area in which my clinic
is located you are lucky if you can get a small,
studio apartment for that kind of money. If rents are that high, how do they pay for food? Food stamps, going to food pantries, going through garbage cans in order to get old bottles and cans they can cash in for the 5 cent deposit.

So, here is my point: the system is being abused much
less than you think. In fact, the largest dollar
recipients of welfare are the huge multimillion dollar
corporations, which will fail if the U.S. government
doesnít bail them out. Keep in mind that their
company officers are still living off the fat of the
land while our taxes keep their businesses alive.

The bottom line:

* You must not rely on Social Security for
financial security.
If you become disabled you
will need another safety net.

* Go out and get disability insurance! You say
you canít afford it? I would question whether you can
afford to not get it.

* Make sure you have health insurance! If you
get sick, you will deplete your savings faster than
you ever dreamed paying for medical services.

* Set up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) and
invest in it regularly!
You will need that money
if you become disabled and you will need it when you
retire.

* Next time you are in the supermarket and you see
someone using food stamps, say ďthere, but for the
grace of God, go I!Ē
I donít care what that
person looks like, they need those food stamps! Keep
in mind that not everyone has the same resources as
you emotionally, financially, intellectually, and
spiritually! That food stamp recipient, who is
wasting money on soda or manicures or whatever, may
not be capable of making better, more responsible
decisions.

* Most of all, take care of yourself, or you might
be very unhappy with the way your country takes care
of you.



This is part of Arthur Rubin's Income Tax Write Off. Participants include:

Arthur.Rubin
laura10801 (Me)
jro26
jo.com
Bryan_Carey
mrisch
and others who may file late.
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