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Tell me if you think this is milking the Social Security System?
Old 10-28-2007, 07:29 PM   #1
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Tell me if you think this is milking the Social Security System?

I have a friend who retired about 19 months ago only because she was sick of going to work everyday and because her husband had been retired for 5 years and did nothing at home while she worked and she said she did it all. When she retired she still had lots of debt and her husband when he retired had 80,000. in credit card debt. He paid his off with a withdrawal from his lump sum. Now that she is retired they don't have much money and I believe they are having a lot of trouble keeping their bills paid. He took Social Security at 62 about the time she retired. She is 56. They never saved a dime in their lives, didn't even own a savings account! They each got a couple hundred thousand dollars in a lump sum when they retired.

She tells me today that she has applied for SSD. She says even though she retired she still qualifies! She has had the disease "Fibromyalgia" for about 20 years and says she qualifies even though she is retired. Her company is paying for lawyers to assist her. The companies stake in this is that if she qualifies, they get rid of her in two years to the Medicare system and will only have to pay for her scripts.

She is about as disabled as I am! (NOT!) She walks 5 miles a day and shops incessantly. She sells products from her home for years and delivers them every two weeks. Yes, she has mentioned her fibro over the years but I haven't seen it disable her for more than maybe 4 months. She sees a Dr. no more than once a year unless she gets a cold or needs her meds refilled.

All of a sudden she found out she could do this to milk the system even though the disease is not the reason she retired. When I told her that I did not approve and it was milking the system, she said "I deserve it because I have hurt all my life." Good Lord!

No wonder Social Security is going broke if people like her are able to milk the system like this. What do you intellectuals think? Am I being too harsh on her? BTW, she is being led by friends who did the same thing!
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Old 10-28-2007, 07:44 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Worried in FL View Post
I have a friend who retired about 19 months ago only because she was sick of going to work everyday and because her husband had been retired for 5 years and did nothing at home while she worked and she said she did it all. When she retired she still had lots of debt and her husband when he retired had 80,000. in credit card debt. He paid his off with a withdrawal from his lump sum. Now that she is retired they don't have much money and I believe they are having a lot of trouble keeping their bills paid. He took Social Security at 62 about the time she retired. She is 56. They never saved a dime in their lives, didn't even own a savings account! They each got a couple hundred thousand dollars in a lump sum when they retired.

She tells me today that she has applied for SSD. She says even though she retired she still qualifies! She has had the disease "Fibromyalgia" for about 20 years and says she qualifies even though she is retired. Her company is paying for lawyers to assist her. The companies stake in this is that if she qualifies, they get rid of her in two years to the Medicare system and will only have to pay for her scripts.

She is about as disabled as I am! (NOT!) She walks 5 miles a day and shops incessantly. She sells products from her home for years and delivers them every two weeks. Yes, she has mentioned her fibro over the years but I haven't seen it disable her for more than maybe 4 months. She sees a Dr. no more than once a year unless she gets a cold or needs her meds refilled.

All of a sudden she found out she could do this to milk the system even though the disease is not the reason she retired. When I told her that I did not approve and it was milking the system, she said "I deserve it because I have hurt all my life." Good Lord!

No wonder Social Security is going broke if people like her are able to milk the system like this. What do you intellectuals think? Am I being too harsh on her? BTW, she is being led by friends who did the same thing!
You do sound a little judgmental. But then, if you are right about her situation, then I can see why. I understand that fibromyalgia is a real condition, and that pain is not a visible symptom (in that it doesn't involve blood, a cast, or anything like that which you can see). But it does seem that if she can walk five miles a day, there should be something she could do rather than to go on disability.

Overall, I'd probably choose to gradually distance myself from her if I could not come to terms with her actions. Sad to say, but there are many who would defraud the system.
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Old 10-28-2007, 07:55 PM   #3
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Wow, when did you meet my sister? She has been on SS disability since about age 48. She paid big bucks to a lawyer to get that SSD due to fibromyalgia. I am sure she hurts, but I am also sure there are others in more pain that are still working.
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:03 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, there are people out there who do try to play the system to their advantage. I once had an employee who was off work a total of two years out of five, all for medical issues of questionnable nature. However, she knew how to play the game and had a doctor who cooperated with her, so my employer had to pay her medical claims...over and over and over again.

When we finally were able to terminate her -- for performance issues -- she immediately applied for SSD..and was successful in that, much to my dismay.

A couple of things that I learned along the way: 1. the applicant must be under pretty constant care by a doctor for the ailment. You mention that your friend sees her doc once a year -- the SSD folks likely will decline her claim for that reason (and she'll have to appeal). 2. There's a whole sub-industry of people who seem to exist only to help others game the SS system. In the case of my former employee, she, her husband, their daughter and her mother were all recipients of SSD -- and she admitted that they had help from others.

The SSD system provides a valuable service to lots of folks who deserve the help -- unfortunately, every good service brings out some bad apples too.
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:05 PM   #5
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My mom is 52 years old and has had fibromyalgia for over 20 years. She's never complained about it although she did quit working at 50 to work part-time from home despite not being FI. She has not and would never consider SSD for this condition.
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:47 PM   #6
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A LOT of people I know seem to have Fibromyalgia. Maybe its an epidemic, or some sort of catch all diagnosis by doctors.
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:52 PM   #7
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Worried, no need to get all frosted at this point in the game, the best part is yet to come. Just pick a nice ring side seat and watch your friend and her husband slowly go down drain.

If they've spent all of the lump sum money and she is going to go for SSD, that means they will both be wards of the government and slaves to a couple of puny dole checks each month. It probably won't last long. If they had credit card debt before they will have it again.

DW has a friend that collects SSD and runs all over town all the time and is always on a trip to somewhere and her husband gets a pension, they are always in hot water over money. For some reason the sum of two monthly checks doesn't ring a bell with them as a spending limit. And they have car payments and a mortgage and no savings.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:15 PM   #8
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No wonder Social Security is going broke if people like her are able to milk the system like this. What do you intellectuals think? Am I being too harsh on her? BTW, she is being led by friends who did the same thing!
Short answer---yes, it is gaming the system. No, you are not being too harsh. Hopefully, the SSD application, after SS finds the facts of her doctor visit history, will go nowhere.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:48 PM   #9
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The eligibility for SSD is probably not that stringent. My MIL receives a monthly check about $400. She can't work because she can walk for too long.
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Old 10-29-2007, 08:27 AM   #10
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This is admittedly a very different story, but what about the case of Jo Reinhardt? She was a flight attendant with United Airlines for 21 years, but became paralyzed with Lou Gehrig's disease and went on long-term disability 3 years ago. She remained on the company payroll for 3 years, as stipulated in her contract, but after that, the company fired her. She, of course, is livid. The article is rife with emotional hyperbole like "betrayed" and "crushed my spirit" and "better off dead." She mentions how without company health insurance, her and her husband face an enormous struggle to pay their medical bills.

Not to sound cold, but as an objective outside observer, is this really the scandal that the FOX news article (are you surprised?) makes it out to be? I mean, it's terrible that this woman contracted this crippling disease. And I'm glad that the company lived up to its obligation by paying for her care for every last day that they were required to. But after that, what obligation does the company have to keep paying? I mean, sure it would be nice if they did, why can we really fault them for cutting her off?

United Airlines is in the business of air travel, not medical care. Shouldn't Jo and her husband have had their own health insurance? Why should United continue to keep this woman on their payroll if she obviously has no chance of ever returning to work? Should they keep paying her a salary for the rest of her life? Doesn't that seem unreasonable to anyone? The spin on the FOX article makes United out to look like a greedy, giant corporation, but personally, I'm having trouble figuring out what they're doing that's so unreasonable.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:02 AM   #11
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As a younger man (I am 34) I have thought long and hard about Social Security in general. The basic premise of Social Security says that the average person for what ever reason, is just not capable of planning for their own retirement. So the government will take money away from you (for your own good) and then give it back to you in your retirement. If you want to sign up for that plan, I suppose that is fine for you, and you should be allowed to do so.
But what if I do not want to play the government's game? As most folks on this forum already know, I can do a much better job of investing my money than the govt can do. Yet currently I am not ALLOWED to opt out of this "service". So let me get this straight, I am being forced by the government to pay for a service that I do not wish to use. How is this any different from the extortion that goes on in inner-cities with "protection" money?
I understand that at this point the govt cannot allow me to "opt out", because they need my money to pay for everyone else currently collecting. In a giant pryamid scheme where many must pay in, so that fewer can reap the benifits. I wish this would get the attention that it needs. Everyone out there is always looking for something for nothing, always overlooking that that something has to come from somewhere....
And no.... social security is NOT the same as taxes. My taxes go for roads, schools, fire, police, etc. These are services that I either use, will use, or have used at some point in the past. I understand that taxes are required of me to pay for these things.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:12 AM   #12
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Update on Jo Reinhardt's situation -- United Airlines set up an independent foundation to assist United employees with exceptional health care expenses. In her case, United will pay her COBRA for 18 to 29 months.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:58 AM   #13
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........
But what if I do not want to play the government's game? As most folks on this forum already know, I can do a much better job of investing my money than the govt can do. Yet currently I am not ALLOWED to opt out of this "service". So let me get this straight, I am being forced by the government to pay for a service that I do not wish to use. ............
I think this premise has been discussed on other threads on varying, but similar topics. To me, it basically comes down to what do you do with the poor sap who is SOL. Do you let them die in the gutter, or step in and pay? If the answer is pay, then how? Which gets us back to tax supported government programs.
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:11 PM   #14
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If the system allows it, then I cant imagine what the problem is. Using a system for its intended purpose isnt "pulling something" unless you're committing fraud or lying. If the system says that a certain illness and/or set of criteria are the correct qualifications and you meet those qualifications, then its not cheating.

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The basic premise of Social Security says that the average person for what ever reason, is just not capable of planning for their own retirement. So the government will take money away from you (for your own good) and then give it back to you in your retirement. If you want to sign up for that plan, I suppose that is fine for you, and you should be allowed to do so.
Prior to SS most people worked until they dropped, were supported by their families, or lived in poverty in large group homes. Its unfortunate that the whole system is designed to more or less punish those that plan well and make good decisions in order to reward those who dont. But its pretty obvious that financially a lot of people cant find their ass with both hands and a mirror, and...they vote!
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:38 PM   #15
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If the system allows it, then I cant imagine what the problem is. Using a system for its intended purpose isnt "pulling something" unless you're committing fraud or lying. If the system says that a certain illness and/or set of criteria are the correct qualifications and you meet those qualifications, then its not cheating.
Why is there almost a double standard when people "take advantage" of the social benefit programs as opposed to the tax or business incentive programs that our government creates? If there are loopholes in which unintended people are getting benefits, then the loopholes need to get fixed.

I used to work many years ago in HEW as a law clerk writing briefs in support of the Government's decision to deny people SSI, SSD or Black Lung benefits -- back then, and I think it's true today, many deserving people were denied benefits -- and I bet for every one person who "games" the system, there are many more people who aren't being properly served. I'd like our safety nets to catch as many deserving people as possible and if they occasionally catch someone not deserving -- well, it's a price I'm willing to pay.
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Old 10-29-2007, 12:53 PM   #16
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And no.... social security is NOT the same as taxes. My taxes go for roads, schools, fire, police, etc. These are services that I either use, will use, or have used at some point in the past. I understand that taxes are required of me to pay for these things.
the majority, by far, of my taxes goes to a public school system where i have no children of my own taking advantage of that and so i pay only to educate other people's offspring. i'm ok with that because the alternative is living in a world filled with uneducated spawn and i realize that would effect my quality of life.

i suppose your argument might warrant more merit if ss recipients did not live in a capitalistic society where every effort is made at great expense to get people to spend as much money as can possibly be sucked out of their pockets during their working years.

imagine the quality of life for all if there was no sort of pension system set up for those aged who never learned to educate themselves.
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Old 10-29-2007, 02:00 PM   #17
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As a younger man (I am 34) I have thought long and hard about Social Security in general. The basic premise of Social Security says that the average person for what ever reason, is just not capable of planning for their own retirement. So the government will take money away from you (for your own good) and then give it back to you in your retirement. If you want to sign up for that plan, I suppose that is fine for you, and you should be allowed to do so.
The govt needs YOUR money to pay the benefits for YOUR parents and grandparents, do you STILL want to opt out?

Quote:
But what if I do not want to play the government's game? As most folks on this forum already know, I can do a much better job of investing my money than the govt can do. Yet currently I am not ALLOWED to opt out of this "service". So let me get this straight, I am being forced by the government to pay for a service that I do not wish to use. How is this any different from the extortion that goes on in inner-cities with "protection" money?
There's not a politician in Washington that REALLY wants to fix the problem, because any big change would kill their political career..........

Quote:
I understand that at this point the govt cannot allow me to "opt out", because they need my money to pay for everyone else currently collecting. In a giant pryamid scheme where many must pay in, so that fewer can reap the benifits. I wish this would get the attention that it needs. Everyone out there is always looking for something for nothing, always overlooking that that something has to come from somewhere....
Welcome to govt spending 101..............


Quote:
And no.... social security is NOT the same as taxes. My taxes go for roads, schools, fire, police, etc. These are services that I either use, will use, or have used at some point in the past. I understand that taxes are required of me to pay for these things.
SS is a tax, as much as you pay property taxes for the schools, etc. Conceivably, the money being "taken" from you will return to you in the form of an annuitized contract called Social Security.............

My sister started working at age 16. She died last year at age 46. So, she paid SS for 30 years, but since she was divorced when she died, and had no children, all that money was "absorbed" into the system. So there are some changes that could be made.........
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:32 PM   #18
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I used to work many years ago in HEW as a law clerk writing briefs in support of the Government's decision to deny people SSI, SSD or Black Lung benefits -- back then, and I think it's true today, many deserving people were denied benefits -- and I bet for every one person who "games" the system, there are many more people who aren't being properly served. I'd like our safety nets to catch as many deserving people as possible and if they occasionally catch someone not deserving -- well, it's a price I'm willing to pay.
Chris, i did the same work when I was in law school. It was shortly after Regan was elected the the Social Security administration was denying people as a matter of course. I went through many many appeals. Heck, my brother was denied the first time around and if any of you spent 15 minutes with him, you would know he is disabled.

When I talk to lawyers in that biz today, people are still getting denied even when they can't do light work. I think scamming is rare and people make assumptions about other people's health without all the facts.
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Old 10-29-2007, 05:32 PM   #19
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I'd like our safety nets to catch as many deserving people as possible and if they occasionally catch someone not deserving -- well, it's a price I'm willing to pay.
With respect, this is the exact point that I am trying to make. I am NOT willing to pay that price. If you are willing, and others are willing, that is what they call charity. And that is a fine path to persue if that is what someone is wanting to do with their money, or property, or time.
It is only when someone whom is NOT willing (like myself) that I have a problem with it. Just because someone else needs (potentially very badly) my money or property, or time, does not give them the RIGHT to take it from me, just because they have less than I do. If that were really the case, then I think I deserve some of Bill Gates money that he obviously does not NEED. Sadly this seems like an argument that I will not win on this forum, and I can accept that. It does seem strange to me though that on a forum where we all want to retire early, so we are not working for someone else. Some are so quick to pledge what they have worked so hard for, to people whom by their own admission have not earned it for themselves. I promise I will not bring this one up again...
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Old 10-29-2007, 05:41 PM   #20
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In my limited experience, it is hard to get on SSDI, and once on not automatic to stay on. I had a friend who worked in the SS Administration handling disability claims and appeals. It is a quite a complicated procedure. What bothered him were not the few questionable cases that got through, but the real hardship cases that got denied.

That said, the only way to absolutely stop welfare fraud is to absolutely stop welfare.

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