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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

The Ordeal Of Getting SSI Benefits

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jan 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

The New York Times published a fascinating article about the origins of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. I have spent decades in this field, but I learned some new facts from the article. In particular, the author explained the reasons, based on history, why it is so hard to qualify for and collect SSI benefits.

Roots In The Great Depression

As you probably know,  the government enacted the Social Security Act in 1935. As you also probably know, this was during the Great Depression. As the article

Read All About It

notes, when Social Security began, there was a fundamental problem: it was supposed to be funded by people paying into the system during their working lives. But, Social Security was new and no one had ever paid anything. To avoid the problem of having no one eligible, Congress directed the states to set up cash assistance programs for the elderly, single mothers, and the blind.

Too Easy To Qualify?

But, this created for some, a new problem: what if it was to easy to qualify for these cash assistance programs? If people could get the same benefit without ever

Of Course Altmeyer Looked Like This

having paid into Social Security, why would they bother? The chairman of the Social Security Board, a character named Arthur Altmeyer, feared that the state-based cash-assistance programs could rival, or even replace Social Security.

Blame Arthur Altmeyer

So, what did Altmeyer do? He told the states that they would not get any federal money for their cash-assistance programs unless they made qualifying for them as unpleasant as possible. This meant personal investigations of applicants. It also meant reducing their available benefits if they had any other resources. When the state programs were rolled into Social Security in 1971, Altmeyer's restrictions and complications came, too. In fact, most of them are in place to this day.

Economists Have A Term For This

I was amazed to learn the economists have a term for this. They call it the ordeal. Simply put, it means that would-be SSI recipients must be made to pay a significant price in time and indignity to qualify. 

It's startling to think that the awful bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration, to include unthinkable delays in processing applications, is there by design. It gives one pause and a reason to reflect on the very nature of our relationship with our public servants.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Take the time to read the article. It is a real eye-opener. I won't make the process of getting SSI any easier. But, at least you will have some idea why Social Security acts the way they do in their dealings with the most vulnerable among us.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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