Frances O'Grady, the TUC General Secretary, said: "It is not surprising that voters want to get tough on welfare. They think the system is much more generous than it is in reality, is riddled with fraud and is heavily skewed towards helping the unemployed, who they think are far more likely to stay on the dole than is actually the case. Indeed if what the average voter thinks was true, I'd want tough action too.
"But you should not conduct policy, particularly when it hits some of the most vulnerable people in society, on the basis of prejudice and ignorance. And it is plainly immoral to spread such prejudice purely for party gain, as ministers and their advisers are doing, by deliberately misleading people about the value of benefits and who gets them."
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It's the same in the US. Imagine the shock of people who think you can live high on the hog with Disability learning that the average monthly payment is around $1000 -- significantly less than you'd get from a minimum wage job. I live in a high cost-of-living state; when I first got sick in 1987, one of my co-workers had just been out on Disability for maternity leave and was getting around $400 a month. I was paying $400 a month to rent a no-frills one-bedroom apartment. If I went on Disability, I'd have no money to pay for utilities or food or medical care.
Yes, I know someone on Disability who took her kid to Disneyland. Her mother paid for the travel and a friend who works there got her free tickets. That changes the equation substantially, doesn't it?
I know someone else on Disability who has travelled to Europe. Her husband's paycheck covered the costs, not her SSDI benefits.
For most people, SSDI barely keeps body and soul together. There's very little incentive for fraud, because the payments leave you below poverty level. Many people I know on SSDI regularly go without meals because they can't afford enough food for the month. You'd have to be seriously lazy to scrape by on SSDI instead of a minimum wage sit-down job like receptionist. Only if you have well-off parents or a spouse with a good-paying job are you going to make ends meet by "choosing" to go on Disability.