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Tuesday, April 07, 2015 6:56 PM

Expansion of Disability Fraud Under Obama: Puerto Ricans Get U.S. Disability Benefits for Inability to Speak English; Disability Deal Explained

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New Meaning of Disability

Here is a curious story on the meaning of "disability".

Please consider Lack of English Meant Puerto Ricans Got Disability Benefits.

A federal audit has found that some Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. territory have received disability benefits in part because they could not speak English.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration said in a report issued this month that there were 218 cases from 2011 to 2013 in which benefits were granted under those circumstances.

The report said Social Security determined it was difficult for those people to find a job because they did not speak English, but the inspector general said they could have found work given their Spanish-speaking skills in a largely Spanish-speaking island.
More Details

The above version is from ABC News. In another curiosity, Sputnik News, appears to have far more details.
The US Social Security Administration has been offering disability benefits to Spanish speakers living in Puerto Rico based on their inability to speak English, despite Spanish being the territory’s primary language.

The US Social Security Administration [SSA] has been handing out disability benefits to Puerto Ricans due to the fact that they only speak Spanish. This is despite the fact that Spanish, one of the US territory’s two official languages, is the dominant tongue and is spoken by over 95 percent of the population.

According to findings released last week by the Office of the General Inspector of the SSA, the organization "has applied the medical-vocational guidelines nationally and does not make exceptions for claimants who reside in Puerto Rico, where both Spanish and English are the official languages," leading to payouts for people living in Puerto Rico who don't speak English.

Workers at the SSA use grids of medical-vocational guidelines to assess whether or not an individual is entitled to disability benefits, which can be claimed if a person is unable to communicate in English, and therefore limited in his or her ability to find a job.

"We identified 218 cases in Puerto Rico from Fiscal Years 2011 to 2013 where disability determination services used the aforementioned grid rules to grant benefits," said the report.

"Moreover, about 4 percent of the hearings we sampled involved these same grid rules." wrote the auditors. The true figure could be even higher, since those writing the report had "incomplete management information," on claimants which had been awarded disability payments according to the grid rules due to their inability to speak English.

The report referred to a 1987 US District Court judgment that "it is the ability to communicate in Spanish, not English, that is vocationally important in Puerto Rico." and recommended that the SSA "evaluate the appropriateness of the grid rules," in such circumstances.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, 95 percent of Puerto Rico's 3.5 million inhabitants speak Spanish at home, and 84 percent report that they do not speak English "very well."
Disability Fraud

This is yet another example of growing disability fraud under Obama. From a payout standpoint, 218 cases is rather minor.

Yet, it's the attitude about what is considered a "disability" that is galling.

I have written about Disability Fraud at least a dozen times.

60 Minutes: Mainstream Media Finally Catches on to Disability Fraud: 60 Minutes Reports on "Disability USA"
Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes reports on the alarming state of the federal disability program, which has exploded in size in the last six years and could become the first federal benefits program to run out of money.
NPR: Unwilling to Work; 25% in Hale County AL Collect Disability, 14 Million Nationwide
How Easy is it to Get Disability?

Hale county's Dr. Timberlake asks a simple question to all his patients. "What grade did you finish?" If you claim "back pain" and do not have a degree, Timberlake believes you are disabled.

The Disability Deal

Getting disability seems easy enough in some states, and especially easy in Hale County Alabama. But is disability better than minimum wage? The answer is yes. NPR author Chana Joffe-Walt explains: ....
States Promote Fraud: States Have an Incentive to Promote (Not Stop) Disability Fraud; So How Much Fraud Is There?
This all goes back to 1996 when president Bill Clinton promised to "end welfare as we know it". He did indeed do just that, and fraud is the result.


The federal government pays disability, but states pay part of welfare costs. This creates a huge incentive for states to actively promote disability fraud (simply to get people off state-sponsored welfare programs).
Results of Clinton Ending Welfare "As We Know It"

  • Every month 14 million Americans receive a disability check.
  • In 1961 the leading cause of disability was heart disease and strokes, totaling 25.7% of cases. Back pain was 8.3% of cases.
  • In 2011 the leading cause of disability was a hard to disprove back pain, totaling 33.8% of cases. The second leading cause was an equally difficult to disprove "mental illness" at 19.2%. Strokes and heart disease fell to 10.6%.
  • In West Virginia, a whopping 9% of the population collects disability checks. In Arkansas, 8.2% are on disability, and in Alabama and Kentucky, 8.1% collect disability. In Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah, the figure is 2.9%.
  • In Hale County Alabama 1 in 4 receive disability checks.
  • Nearly every case in Hale County Alabama has Dr. Perry Timberlake in common.
  • Those on Supplemental Security Income, a program for children and adults who are both poor and disabled is nearly seven times larger than 30 years ago.
  • Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce.

Dr. Timberlake asks a simple question to all his patients. "What grade did you finish?" If you claim "back pain" and do not have a degree, Timberlake believes you are disabled.

Timberlake gets paid for his "analysis".

States are willing to go along thanks to Bill Clinton who "ended welfare as we know it", creating an even worse disability fraud scheme in the wake.

There has been no president since, Republican or Democrat, willing to stop fraud at the federal level. And clearly Obama is doing his best to expand fraud.

Disability Deal Explained

If Democrats give enough free benefits to enough people, no one can ever vote them out of office.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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