A National Disgrace’: Trump Proposes Social Security Change That Could End Disability Benefits for Hundreds of Thousands

Yves here. I am posting this because the public comments period on the proposed rule change to make it more difficult to remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits is open till January 31, 2020. Please weigh in! Link here.

It is so depressing to see how mean-spirited the US has become. First imposing more stringent and often impossible-to-meet work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries, and now this.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

Activists are working to raise public awareness and outrage over a little-noticed Trump administration proposal that could strip life-saving disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people by further complicating the way the Social Security Administration determines who is eligible for payments.

The proposed rule change was first published in the Federal Register last month but has received scarce attention in the national media. Last week, the Social Security Administration extended the public comment period on the proposal until January 31, 2020.

Alex Lawson, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Social Security Works, told Common Dreams that the rule change “is the Trump administration’s most brazen attack on Social Security yet.”

“When Ronald Reagan implemented a similar benefit cut, it ripped away the earned benefits of 200,000 people,” Lawson said. “Ultimately, Reagan was forced to reverse his attack on Social Security after massive public outcry—but not before people suffered and died.”

Patient advocate Peter Morley, who lobbies Congress on healthcare issues, called the proposal “a national disgrace.”

“This is not over,” said Morley. “We will all need to mobilize.”

The process for receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is already notoriously complicated, and the Trump administration is attempting to add yet another layer of complexity that critics say is aimed at slashing people’s benefits.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week, “those already receiving disability benefits are subject to so-called continuing disability reviews, which determine whether they are still deserving of compensation for an injury, illness, or other incapacitating problem as their lives progress.”

Currently, beneficiaries are placed in three separate categories based on the severity of their disability: “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” “Medical Improvement Expected,” and “Medical Improvement Possible.” People with more severe medical conditions face less frequent disability reviews.

The Trump administration’s proposed rule would another category called “Medical Improvement Likely,” which would subject beneficiaries to disability reviews every two years.

According to the Inquirer, “an estimated 4.4 million beneficiaries would be included in that designation, many of them children and so-called Step 5 recipients, an internal Social Security classification.”

Step 5 recipients, the Inquirer noted, “are typically 50 to 65 years of age, in poor health, without much education or many job skills [and] often suffer from maladies such as debilitating back pain, depression, a herniated disc, or schizophrenia.”

Jennifer Burdick, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, told the Inquirer that placing Step 5 recipients in the new “Medical Improvement Likely” category and subjecting them to reviews every two years would represent “a radical departure from past practice.”

Lawson of Social Security Works said “Donald Trump and his advisers know that this will kill people, and they do not care.”

“Every current and future Social Security beneficiary must band together to defeat this horrific proposal,” added Lawson, “or else all of our earned benefits will be next.”

In addition to lack of coverage from the national media, most members of Congress have also been relatively quiet about the Trump administration’s proposal.

Two Pennsylvania Democrats—Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Brendan Boyle—condemned the proposed rule change in statements to the Inquirer.

The proposal, said Casey, “appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump administration to make it more difficult for people with disabilities to receive benefits.”

Boyle said the “changes seem arbitrary, concocted with no evidence or data to justify such consequential modifications.”

“This seems like the next iteration of the Trump administration’s continued efforts to gut Social Security benefits,” Boyle added.

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  1. Wukchumni

    Its not that easy to get disability payments for Social Security as it is, my late brother’s lame excuse that he had brain cancer took a few tries before the tumblers clicked and he was awarded the grail.

      1. Wukchumni

        I merely wanted to emphasize how difficult the task at hand was. When he got turned down the first time, I remember thinking, here’s a fellow who’s a genuine mess, on account of all the things they did to him to keep him alive, and yet he didn’t make the cut?

        1. amfortas the hippie

          when i determined that i could no longer work, my doctor suggested disability. the overt assumption was that it would be stupidly easy and i would soon be getting a hip, ankle etc
          took six 1/2 years and four time through the process before i was denied the last time and got caught in ssi’s ragged net
          no one wanted to believe it could be this difficult
          i must have done something wrong

          but almost everyone else i’ve known has had the same sort of problem(just to a lesser extent)
          and this was with even the kept doctors saying i was obviously disabled

          1. sharonsj

            A friend with heart problems that kept him from working couldn’t get disability until he was homeless, and even then it took a long time to get accepted. Just when he was about to get his first payment, he died. I bet plenty of people have similar stories; everyone tells me how hard it is to get approved–despite the Republicans claiming otherwise….

            1. jrs

              and people wonder why Andrew Yang has gone so far and is surprisingly popular, just with $1000 a month no strings attached. They shouldn’t. Because existing government benefits are near impossible to get and getting harder and proposals pitched primarily at the middle class aren’t going to help there.

              In kind benefits would go further, but it’s beyond what most can conceive, to have not just free healthcare, but housing costing barely nothing etc. – basic needs met outside the market. That’s the ultimate goal.

              But as a hypothetical: even 1 year or even 6 months of $1000 each a month, no strings attached, never mind long term costs, this theoretical proposal would not be long term (it’s not Yangs) would help many. Because people just get in financial holes like car payments or whatever that some money would get them out of.

              1. Summer

                By similiar reasoning, the $1000 shouldn’t be a problem instituting as a measure and then other additional benefits once one may qualify for approval (since they are already set up like an endless series of hoops to jump through).
                But I’ve never heard it expressed like that. Then Yang would have my attention with the “$1,000”.

              2. Joe Well

                I had older relatives in the late 1990s-early 2000s who were disabled from work (for instance, arthritis) who had free senior housing + SS disability before SS retirement + Medicaid then Medicare.

                And I felt sorry for them that they had to live on so little and had suffered so much to get it. But now look at what our society has been reduced to!

        2. fajensen

          Maybe I should not give The Donald any ideas, but he way the incentives are set up eventually drives all organisational behaviour:

          In Denmark, the local councils (which are responsible for paying disability benefits) will deploy ‘medical consultants*’ to question the licensed medical professionals all the way through the complaints process, before losing the case and paying up.

          They lose about 75% of all cases, which some people will take as an astonishingly bad grasp of the laws and government directives, but, this is of course not the case, it is just a misdirection.

          The local councils will do this because they only have to pay the disability benefit from after they lose in the ‘complaints courts’, not from the time of the original claim, so there is ‘money to be saved’ by dragging out and disputing all claims as a general principle. Sometimes they will also get lucky and the victim dies during the process, which I am sure they at least considered to have as a KPI but probably abandoned in case the PowerPoints would be leaked.

          So, Incentives, it is all about The Incentives!

          The ‘medical consultants’ are interesting because I have not been able to find anything stating that the consultant indeed is licensed to practice medicine, is a kind of medical professional, have medical training or any training at all.

          The Danish term is not a ‘protected title’ so anyone can in principle do it and if the only function is to dispute the experts then, in my opinion, any troll hired right off the internet would do!

          It is very hard to extract any information on who and what those ‘medical consultants’ are so of course there is something up with that!

  2. Ford Prefect

    The single most baffling thing about the Trump presidency is his laser-like focus on implementing policies targeting significant portions of his base. He has unerringly targeted farmers, mining, and now many blue collar workers over 50. Somehow, they still think he is helping them.

    1. Mr. Grumpy

      Yes, this directly targets the base. In many counties up and down Appalachia as many as a third of working age adults are on SS disabilty.

      1. anon y'mouse

        he isn’t trying to appeal to them.

        he is appealing to those around them who are struggling for survival, and resent the “easy life” those slackers have. and who believe that “their tax dollars” are being taken (that those workers can ill afford) to pay for that easy lifestyle.

        there is a huge number of people in our country who are basically of the “get off your asp and work, like i do!” variety. they appear to think anyone who isn’t struggling as they are is merely lying back in the arms of “big government” and welching on their responsibilities due to laziness, stupidity and immorality.

        this is meat to that base. and pretty much anyone who has any job and isn’t comfortably well off is potentially in that base.

        1. inode_buddha

          “…and pretty much anyone who has any job and isn’t comfortably well off is potentially in that base.”

          Said base is too stupid to realize that the reason they struggle is because of their cheapskate employers and big business. And *NOT* because of government. The trick is to educate them as to this reality.

          It can be as simple as getting somebody to actually read and analyze their own pay stub, and make note of how much someone else (the bosses) is making off their labor. It can be as simple as pointing out that medicare taxes can double and they would still be a small fraction of what they are paying a private insurance company that has its own death panels and delays.

          1. anon y'mouse

            it doesn’t matter how small that number is, it is there.

            as we all know, many of those taxes are regressive if you make under a certain amount per year.

            plus, those taxes feed the “trust fund is running out of $” lies.

            i say, do away with them entirely.

            also, the amount your employer is making on your back is a mystery to most people who do not provide direct services for which they also know the costs of providing said services (plumbers, electricians or anyone else who actually orders parts and knows their business, and has a good idea of the overhead costs involved). most have no idea. unless they account for it in that their boss has a new Merc in the lot, and takes 3 vacations a year or whatever.

            1. inode_buddha

              Well, its not that hard to figure it out. I know how much my employers made off me because I work in the trades, I know how much stuff costs and what jobs the bosses bid on. Knowing how much a factory owner is getting wholesale for their product… the ratio is insane.

              I think we could apply MMT to lots of social problems if I read you correctly. But realistically, the public will never go for it because they will say “the money has to come from somewhere”. So those numbers will always be on their paychecks. I think M4A is the lesser evil compared to private insurance, by far.

          2. Potato Guy

            Hey Buddha – “Said base is too stupid to realize” be careful with your generalizations. It weakens your arguements and hence yourself.

        2. Clark

          Yes, that definition of “base” is an important. But the true Trump “base” is not the deluded precariat MAGA-hat-wearing strugglers. The “base” is really a certain breed of suburban Republicans. Check out Williamson County, Tennessee, for example.

          1. Mike Elwin

            Yes, isn’t that what finally was determined after his election? That his base is older white rural middle class?

        3. D. Fuller

          Anyone discussing the costs to State governments in terms of social costs when sick people start hitting the hospitals for treatment, who can’t afford it?

          Those costs will dwarf any (imaginary) savings from the rules change. In addition? To cover the costs for treatment of the uninsured created by the rules change?

          PREMIUMS will rise, dramatically. Not only shifting costs to the States, but to those who can (barely) afford their insurance already.

          Not only is the rules change a PR stunt for the “Welfare Queen”-believing crowd; the rules change shifts costs to The States where The States will be paying far more than any imaginary savings that The Trump Admin thinks they will save.

          It’s either that, or let people die. At the latter point, neoliberals might as well as just reintroduce concentration labor camps to the world to get rid of their “poor problem”.

          Arbeit Macht Frei, in light of all the manufacturing losses to cheaper labor markets around the world… might as well as become neoliberal’s (and Trump’s) official slogan for The United States.

          1. Rudolf

            Re labor camps for the poor: they already exist and have been for years. They’re called (for profit) prisons.
            Those who profit from this slavery are truly evil!

      2. Code Name D

        Impeachment is playing a role in this. My anecdotal observation is that conservatives (Trump voters) are starting to question his agenda. But the Russa-gate witch hunts have forced them to set aside their concerns in order to answer a more brazen assault on the Constitution.

        1. jrs

          IOW, Trump voters interest in concrete material benefits = YAWN.

          The Constitution, it’s perfectly Constitutional to impeach a President, one may or may not like it but that is really neither here nor there. But I’ve usually found most Republicans interest in Constitutional rights to be mostly talk. But impeachment isn’t even unconstitutional.

    2. Trick Shroadé

      To be fair the headline is probably misleading. Trump probably doesn’t have a clue about this.

      But you’re right. My half sister has been on disability for decades and in fact is almost completely reliant on government aid (section 8 housing, medicaid, etc.) yet is a rabid Trump supporter.

      1. Dirk77

        I guess I keep expecting the imperial presidency to die away and we go back to congress making the laws, the policy. That said, if the “interagency” can be full-time rogue, I don’t see why not gov department heads can be more Trump than Trump.

    3. D. Fuller

      Even after farmers lost their farms, with many committing suicide? Many of them still believe in Trump. Even if a trade deal does go through and China starts buying *SOME* agricultural products from The US, not matter how small the amount? Trump’s supporters who manage to sell at a fraction of what they used to sell to China?

      Will be grateful to him. Even if they are making only $1 out of $5 or $10 that they used to. Something – no matter how little? Is better than nothing. They will sing the praises of Trump.

      It’s been a feature of the American economy since 2008, that those who used to make more money, are grateful that they are making less. Then at least they have a job. Until the next recession that is.

  3. The Historian

    When I first read this story, I just felt my heart drop. This country has gotten so mean that it is asking the least able among us to fight the US bureaucracy – something that even the most able among us have a hard time doing.

    Do these people not understand what the term “disabled” means?

    1. inode_buddha

      Per your last sentence, I think they don’t understand anything until it happens to them. Most every right wing nut job I have ever encountered believes that everyone should work if they aren’t in a coma, never mind that these same right wing nut jobs have offshored most everything, and what little remains is unlivable.

    2. Shiloh1

      Where’s the money?

      I am in favor of ending 1 or more of the various 20 Years Wars, closing several overseas military bases especially in western and Central Europe, and ending all foreign aid. Except for a guy in Kentucky and his dad in Texas, I never here these points from Team Red or Team Blue, though Tulsi does talk about the war stuff as she is increasingly pushed off stage.

      Wonder how much Boeing stock is propped up by the Fed, TBTF defense contractor and TBTF Dow component.

      1. False Solace

        Bernie Sanders got a bill through Congress that would have ended US spending on the war in Yemen. Trump vetoed it.

        1. Geo

          I’m a fan of Tulsi and even made a small donation to help keep her in the debates. But, it’s disturbing how many of her adamant supporters erase Bernie’s more in-depth stance against US imperialism and spending on wars.

          Speaks more to how few voices we have left in the supposed anti-war community when our primary voices are Tulsi (who is against regime change but still supports the MIC), Tucker Carlson (has too many problems to list here), and Sanders (who has an imperfect record on the subject but is more anti-war than the others).

          Any true antiwar voices have been so thoroughly marginalized that you can only find them on “where are they now?” lists and a few indie blogs/vlogs.

  4. annie

    not only trump.
    this brings back edouard louis’s stunning little book “who killed my father.”
    when a piece of heavy equipment falls on him at work, his father is crippled for life. in agonizing pain, on his back in bed for months (years?), he’s not able to work in the factory again. then france passes new law that insists that his father must work in order to continue getting disability. so his father is shoveling snow, raking leaves in public parks, despite agony.
    towards the end, edouard louis lists the series of presidents and ministers of the republic who killed his father.

    1. Geo

      I sincerely hope not. It’s not official yet. Still time to speak up. I know a few in similar situations as you. Really hope we can stop (or at least delay) it.

    2. smoker

      So very sorry, hopefully there’ll be massive outrage, what else to say, but the US Government is increasingly vicious and lethal against its own residents.

  5. goingnowhereslowly

    I work on regulations at another federal agency. I took a quick look through the NPRM and came up with the following “bottom line” numbers. Estimated “savings” (reduced disbursements to beneficiaries) = $2.6 billion over ten years (2020-2029). Increased administrative costs = $1.8 billion over the same period, due to an 18.4% increase in disability reviews.

    The most coldhearted analysis of this proposal cannot fail to note that it represents a significant increase in staff and “red tape,” The Administration is making government bigger and creating more jobs for bureaucrats. I guess that’s OK as long as those bureaucrats are torturing the most vulnerable individuals rather than, say, demanding transparency from corporations.

    I too know someone who fought for years to get disability benefits after a car accident left her in constant excruciating pain. It took the intervention of a Member of Congress to get her benefits approved.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I will be commenting on this proposal.

    1. bob

      That’s neoliberalism defined. Cut costs, but increase payments to people who are not disabled with the money you save.

      Net result- an entire bureaucracy of people who are experts at denying benefits that people have earned.

      Means testing!

      1. Jules

        This is how the UK benefits system works for disability/chronic illness benefits.

        People have been suffering, made sicker, pushed into destitution, and sometimes died due to stress or suicide. Nobody seems to care.

        It has ended up costing MORE than it has saved.

        1. D. Fuller

          Small IRS = billionaires and corporations avoiding more taxes.

          People are angry at the IRS because most IRS audits are against people making well below the median income in The US. The IRS reasons that is easier to go after people who can’t afford lawyers, than the billionaire and corporate tax cheats.

          Whose responsible for writing the rules that have the IRS targeting the poor? Not government. Government is a fiction that we subscribe to… it’s the politicians in Congress and The Administration – :REAL PEOPLE – who are responsible for that. Voters need to stop blaming some fictional government “person” as Satan, and start blaming REAL PEOPLE in Congress and The Administration who target the poor.

          If you are not making $50,000 a year as a single person? You are not middle-class. Add $5,000 per additional household member. Middle class security begins around $90,000. Even then? The IRS knows you can’t afford a lawyer and thus are easy pickings.

          Many corporations pay $0 in taxes, yet get a FAT TAX REBATE back from YOU. Some of their tax rebates come out of YOUR POCKET and MINE. In one year, recently? IBM’s ENTIRE PROFITS for that year was because of a tax rebate after IBM paid $0 in taxes. There are many more corporations like IBM, in any given year.

          The IRS doesn’t make that happen? REAL PEOPLE who are POLITICIANS write the rules to make that happen. Who elects those politicians?

          VOTERS. People need to stop blaming “Satan Government” as if government were a real person, and start holding the politicians accountable. Slogans will not fix any problems.

          If a voter keeps voting for the politicians who allow cheats and such as described above? Then… the politicians is not the problem… it is the VOTERS themselves who keep voting for the same politicians, expecting something different each time.

          A definition of insanity.

    2. Punxsutawney

      Who says they will increase reviewers? More likely wait times will get even longer. Meanwhile no benefits for you until the review is complete!

      WIN WIN!!

      I am so disgusted in our government.

      And I have a close friend who has a debilitating brain disease who will undoubtedly need ssdi at some point.

    3. D. Fuller

      Any savings is imaginary when factoring in inflation and ever increasing budget deficits. Current Account Deficits (money already obligated to Federal spending) is already larger than the $1.4 trillion budget that recently passed Congress. Our budgets are not even paying for future spending. Federal budgets are paying for PAST SPENDING.

      $800 million in savings according to your estimate? Is purely imaginary in light of inflation, budget deficits, and current account deficits. While interest on the national debt has exploded from $432 billion to $574 billion. With the national debt increasing from $19.47 trillion to $23.1 trillion. Excacerbated by the “tax cuts” where supply-siders live a fantasy that for every $1 cut in taxes results in $4-$8 in increased government revenue. Meaning? Government revenue should have gone up this year by around $800 billion to $1.5 trillion.

      Of course, that did not happen. How the current Administration and many Congress Members somehow believe that not even a rounding error in the Federal budget is going to solve their spending problem (such as *defense* spending increasing by over $22 billion based on skyrocketing profiteering in the defense industry)…

      Is beyond belief. That so-called deficit hawks responsible for massive increased budget deficits now think that saving pennies on the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste is somehow going to improve the budget deficit to make them look like they know what they are doing?

      Is going to fail, as it has ever since Reagan. A lesson supply-siders WILL NEVER LEARN. They are INCAPABLE of learning, in this regard.

      The yearly defense budget itself – when adding in all other defense programs hidden by allocations to non-defense agencies? Is over twice the amount (inflation adjusted) that was spent each year fighting WWII. Last time any one checked? We did not have 12.5 million citizens under arms fighting a two front war on five continents.

      In addition, to have The Federal Reserve and Federal Government inject over $21 trillion into the economy over the last ten years, only to claim that there is a liquidity or repo-market crisis? Imaginary savings of $800 million (per your estimate) will do nothing.

      The COSTS ALONE of then having to pay for the SOCIAL COSTS of those cut from Social Security Disability, will DWARF any imaginary, fictional savings that this Administration somehow believes will be realized. The States will be paying for those costs.

      And let us not forget that Centrists Democrats are on board with cutting Social Security. Ala Obama’s Cat Food Commission.

      This rules change is a PR stunt to pander to those who believe in Reagan’s “Welfare Queens”: that everyone receiving assistance is somehow driving a $250,000 BMW. People who believe that are morally bankrupt and truly only concerned about their money and only their well-being; these people would be the people who moan about government spending despite living in States that take more from the Federal Government than they receive, while being willing to trample women and children to be first in line for a sweet government handout.

      1. D. Fuller

        Missed the edit :(

        these people would be the people who moan about government spending despite living in States that take more from the Federal Government than they receive,

        Should read, these people would be the people who moan about government spending despite living in States that take more from the Federal Government than they give,

  6. Trent

    “Trump presidency is his laser-like focus on implementing policies targeting significant portions of his base.”

    My god, when was the last time you remember any politician doing something for their base? And by base I mean something that helped the entire country, not something IDPOL related or that helps a small sliver, but all of us? I find it baffling that anyone still expects people elected to office to actually help the people that elect them.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The last good thing was ADA (this is not a typo for the newbies who think the country was already great until Nov. ’16),

  7. Jeremy Grimm

    I feel deeply saddened after reading this post. This is not the country, not the world I was born into. It has become nightmare.

    I will make comments to this rule change — but I doubt my comments will count for much. Public outcry and protest seems to count little to our Elites.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I entered one comment so far. As of 12/17/2019 at 4:15 pm EST Page views: 9,068 and 155 public comments. These rule change proposals going out at Christmastime suggest neither public notice or comment is desired. That leaves me wondering who wanted Trump to make these proposals. That are too detailed and bureaucratic to have originated from Trump.

        Some of the contents of the change proposal document are ludicrous. The burden calculations on p. 10 greatly understate the time burdens and the hourly rate they use might be comical if this were not so serious a matter. I pulled a couple of choice extracts from the longer web document: “In the 1970s, the disability incidence rate (the number of disability awards in relation to the population) increased significantly, with substantial increases in the cost of the disability program.” [no suggestion for why that might have been].
        “Research on the effect of SSI payments on household income and earnings found that “. . . a [household] loss of $1,000in the child’s SSI payment [due to the loss of payments after a CDR 49 ] increases parental earnings—by $700 to $1,400.” [foot.50] The paper which suggests why this effect may be so — must be purchased.

        But the referenced document does provide a charming abstract:
        “I estimate the effect of removing children with disabilities from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on parental earnings and household disability receipt. Using administrative data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), I implement regression discontinuity and difference in- differences designs based on changes in SSA’s budget for child medical reviews. I find that parents fully offset the SSI loss with increased earnings, and the loss of the child’s SSI payment reduces disability applications by parents and siblings but does not reduce their actual disability receipt. I examine alternative hypotheses for the large parental earnings response.”
        “Payments on Household Earnings and Income: Evidence from the SSI Children’s Program”,Manasi Deshpande, Posted Online September 28, 2016 https://doi.org/10.1162/REST_a_00609 © 2016 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review of Economics and Statistics
        Volume 98 | Issue 4 | October 2016 p.638-654 ] Although a 36-page collection of supporting data charts and graphs can be downloaded.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        As of midnight last night 461 comments reported. Not sure what is going on. I made my comment to the rules changes as far as I know where the 155 number had been reported. Be careful about which ‘docket’ your comments go to. I may have commented to the pdf extending the comments period [??? UGH ???]. Docket No. SSA–2018–0026 is the right docket number but I received email about comment to Docket No. SSA-2018-0026-0001 which has the same title.

  8. John C.

    I see a roughly $780B Pentagon budget got through the Senate recently.

    This is indeed a new low in US cruelty and greed, and as a parent of two special needs sons this certainly weighs on me.

    1. D. Fuller

      A financier bought the only producer for chaff dispensers for the US military. The price on the chaff dispensers went from roughly $2,500 to over $7,000 in one night. Just because. Imagine everything from nails and hammers and wrenches to F-35 engine parts increasing in price, similarly.

      Necessitating yearly budget increases for the military. This. Is. CAPITALISM! (kicks the taxpayer down the well).

  9. Krystyn Walentka

    Thank you bringing this to my attention, but being disabled I do not think it will affect me. (They review me every seven years, last time they sent me a letter I was in the hospital so…) And If it does end up affecting me there will be hell to pay.

    On a side note, there is a big Trump impeachment protest in my tiny rich neoliberal town (Port Townsend, WA). I was eating lunch when a woman asked if I was going to go out and protest. I said no and I asked here where were the lines of protesters about helping the homeless? She got immediately furious. It was hysterical. She said “there are many people helping the homeless in the town”. I told her people were not out in the streets. She said “This affects the WORLD! You need to vote!” I said I can’t vote because I am functionally homeless and besides what good did voting do Obama bombed more brown people than Trump. Ha! Wow she could not even talk to me anymore! I continued to tell her it is not about Trump it is about class and the rich people in this town like to protest Trump because it stops them from feel guilty about their class.She was flabbergasted and moved to another table.

    It all strikes me to my core that they do not see how petty they are and how they are being manipulated. They really cannot see past their Trump derangement to hear another point. Maybe that will be the next DSM category and they can get on disability…

    Thank god I am leaving next month.

    1. JaaaaayCeeeee

      Good for you; taking on a comfy clintonite, and having new horizons on the horizon. This is some sick stuff from the Trump admin, so I am next hitting Yves’ link.

  10. DHG

    Shameful, I am a never going to improve and I will be making a comment at the federal site on this. First off he nor his lackeys have the power to do this, it must come from Congress and I suggest everyone hammer their reps to stop this as well with legislation into a must pass bill.

    1. jrs

      Yes what is pretty obvious is these types of spending decision bills should be going through congress (the food stamp changes as well). These used to be the types of things congress would vote on. But Trump is getting around this on technicalities.

      Anyone who predicted Trump could only do so much damage, because he was constitutionally limited by congress, was just plain wrong.

    2. marym

      A lot of what we think of as legislation consists of rules, which the executive branch can change.

      The first link below is to a “curated” selection of executive actions by the Trump administration. The second is an explanation of their approach. From the second link:

      Federal agencies are extensions of the executive branch, and have the ability to make, interpret, and enforce rules and regulations.

      While we tend to focus on the rulemaking process, the Reg Tracker also includes some deregulatory actions that don’t proceed through notice and comment. For instance, it includes guidance revocations and executive actions that have immediate, unmistakably “deregulatory” impact…It also includes rules that were rescinded through use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which creates a procedure for Congress to disapprove and thus nullify regulations that are promulgated by federal agencies


  11. PressGaneyMustDie

    Maybe Yves should add a new topic category: Social Darwinism. “The lame, the old, and the crazy do not add to shareholder value so would they hurry up and die?” -sarc

    1. smoker

      I would replace the word “crazy,” with the word “sane,” and add the words, “well meaning”

      I believe that the powers that be find sanity and kindness to be a threat to their goals.

    2. Massinissa

      Seems like it would overlap too much with both Class Warfare and Guillotine Watch. Which are great sections.

  12. Hamford

    Social Security is regressive as it is- Income Caps of course, so the wealthy get to stop paying into a social good.

    … And fewer payments to the poor. Statistically someone in Appalachia may only stand to collect for a few years based on the low life expectancy, while someone in Fairfax County, VA statistically stands to collect for 15 years. E.g. a 70 year life expectancy only collects a third of the payments as an 80 year life expectancy- assuming payments start at 65.

  13. smoker

    From the complaints link Yves thankfully linked to at the top, for those like myself, that never file (or buy, for that matter) anything online:


    You may submit comments by any one of three methods—internet, fax, or mail. Do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method. Regardless of which method you choose, please state that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA-2018-0026 so that we may associate your comments with the correct regulation.

    Caution: You should be careful to include in your comments only information that you wish to make publicly available. We strongly urge you not to include in your comments any personal information, such as Social Security numbers or medical information.

    2. Fax: Fax comments to (410) 966-2830.

    3. Mail: Address your comments to the Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High Rise Start Printed Page 67395Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.

    1. smoker

      Sigh, corrected mailing address (I copy pasted (as ‘unformatted’ in MSWord) and it oddly picked up something that wasn’t showing as text online):

      3. Mail: Address your comments to the Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High Rise, Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.

  14. HarrisonBergeron

    Suicide vests for all those within 6 months of death whether due to insurance denials, insulin rationing or terminal disease. Solzhenitsyn has lessons for us. We must throw ourselves upon the gears and levers.

  15. Observer

    It’s all about national priorities. In order to set priorities that are in the best long term interest of the nation, two ingredients are needed. The majority of the politicians have to be ethical and have to be dedicated to advancing the welfare of the majority of citizens and not a small group of substantial contributors. Secondly, the majority of the population has to be intellectually capable of understanding what is taking place and acting in the long term best interests of the nation as a whole. We are a long way from having sufficient quantities of these ingredients to make the system work in a manner that benefits the majority and reflects well on the character, capability and dignity of the nation.

  16. Potato Guy

    I am Trumps base. The people I know that are on disability work for the Republican Party in Illinois. These are confusing times.

  17. Norb

    My son was born with Dandy Walker Syndrome. A congenital brain malformation that causes developmental issues. The range of disability in individuals varies form severe to moderately functional. People with this disability will never lead “normal” lives, as will their families and caregivers. As with so many people living with disabilities, until one has to deal with the consequences personally, you really don’t know how difficult life can be. No one would willingly choose to live this type of life. Fate and chance have decided for you. I and my family have been fortunate in that my son is functional and can work. However, he has cognitive and speech deficits that limit his options for employment. He would not survive without the support of family and income from other people. He will never live an independent life.

    One thing to keep in mind when thinking about Social Security Disability, is not to confuse the actual physical condition of the citizen with eligibility for disability payments. Social Security defines disability by the ability to earn a living- nothing more. In 2019, the threshold to receive benefits is $17,640. If you make more than that you are not considered disabled.

    What confounds the Social Security debate is this American notion of rugged individualism. In America, just by having a disability, by definition, makes you a second class citizen. It really is a disgusting situation when you think about it. The elite publicly offer statements pity and charity when confronted by the misfortunate circumstances others face, but privately work diligently to undermine and confound the hardships brought about by disability and poverty. This is class warfare pure and simple, and until the issue can be directly discussed in that matter, nothing will be accomplished except more division and obfuscation. The goal of the elite is to institutionalize poverty and servitude. Its a view of social life as sink or swim.

    What makes this situation in America so intolerable is that it is so dishonest.

    Writing or commenting to the people that put you in the current situation seems pointless at this time- its like petitioning a jailer for your freedom. Sooner or later you have to start thinking less about petitions and more about breaking out of the prison. How many hoops should one jump thru until you say enough is enough and give it up. Its like one giant game people are playing.

    It might take a few more years, but the elite are sowing the seeds of their own destruction-

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