Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Monday, March 21, 2005
With respect to Terri Schiavo, Tom Harkin said that disabled people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Oh, really? Harkin needs to talk to the federal employees who run the disability benefit system. Although criminal law requires "innocent until proven guilty", the Disability system apparently considers you guilty of fraud until proven innocent. I testified to the God’s honest truth – I wouldn’t do anything else under penalty of perjury – but because one doctor chose to illegally write false information in my medical records, unsupported (and even contradicted) by any other medical records, the judge concluded that my testimony (which agreed with the other doctors’ reports) was a lie.
Why was I, as a disabled person, not accorded the minimal respect of being believed? With as little as Disability pays – the average payment is less than the average rent around here – there are very few people who would "do it for the money". Unless you have a trust fund, or a working spouse (and I have neither), there’s no way you could survive on what Disability pays, so why automatically assume that everyone who applies for Disability is faking? You’d have to be pretty desperate to consider a few hundred bucks a month to be "hitting the lottery". (We’ll discuss that indignity later.)
This time around, I went in with reports from several doctors who were paid to say that I am fully-capable of working, and even they noted disabling limitations. I went in with an off-the-charts blood test. And even so, felt like I was a criminal trying to defraud the system, rather than being treated with respect and having my testimony believed. I’m in the uncommon position of having been a notary – the government thoroughly investigated me a few years ago and determined me to be honest – but the Disability system ignores my reputation and the opinion of the state government that my morality is above suspicion, and treats me like a common criminal for daring to think I deserve some of the money that I’ve paid into the system all these years.
Yes, disabled people deserve dignity and respect. Let’s start with the government treating Disability applicants in a dignified and respectful manner, abiding by the "innocent until proven guilty" credo required in every other court in the land.