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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Why Such Conflicting Media On Social Security Disability?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jun 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Within the past few weeks, two prominent and respected media outlets have taken very different approaches to Social Security disability.  The Washington Post published a long article that rather strongly implied that many poor people are trying to game Social Security disability for personal gain.  National Public Radio (NPR), conversely, broadcast a sympathetic look at the process of getting Social Security disability. 

Washington Post Publishes Poorn

You Poor People Tell The Best Stories . . . .

Of the two, the Washington Post article is the more problematic.  The tone of the piece was exploitative. The reporter, Terrence McCoy, treated the family he depicted as something akin to grifters. The thrust of the story was that the Tidwell family was looking for a doctor to say that their twin boys were sufficiently mentally ill to qualify for disability checks. Without these two additional government checks, the Tidwells would not be able to afford their bills for such things as cell phones and cable TV.  No need to read between the lines to see the accusation that McCoy was making about this family. This is the second article of this sort that the Washington Post published. I praised the first one, but now it appears that the Washington Post is making a practice of exploiting the poor for sensational stories. I call these sorts of stories "Poorn."

NPR Much Fairer

NPR was even handed and presented basic facts regarding how much Social Security disability applicants endure to try to get benefits.  Unlike the Washington Post, NPR deserves credit for their reporting.

We Don't Broadcast Poorn

The Risk of Unfair Reporting

The problem with the Washington Post-type stories is that they appear to confirm the stereotype of the poor and disabled as being "takers" who are a drain on society. In a time when major policy changes could be coming for Social Security disability, there is a genuine danger in writing "Poorn" that titillates not the libido, but an unearned sense of moral outrage.

The Washington Post should stop writing these sorts of stories. If they want to cover Social Security disability, they could learn important lessons from NPR.

Have you seen or read depictions of disability or poverty that moved you? If so, let me know.

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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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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