Ugly Double Standard

In Columns, Life With Laura by Laura Stinson

Recently, a woman emailed me seeking advice for her cousin. She had seen my articles in our local newspaper and thought I might be able to offer some assistance in his job search.

He is in his early thirties and has a law degree, but he works part-time bagging groceries. He also has cerebral palsy.

Whether his disability has anything to do with his inability to find a job in his chosen field, I don’t know. I didn’t have enough information about his job search to determine if he might have been a victim of

Based on what information I did have, I would say that it is unlikely.

But, as I see it, this really isn’t the problem. In the past few years, jobs have not been readily available, so it isn’t exactly an anomaly to see people working menial jobs way below their abilities.

We all have to pay the bills.

The real problem — at least in this case — has to do with the supplemental Social Security payments he receives. Many of us know the limitations that the government puts on those who can claim SSI.

An individual is only allowed to make so much per month (barely enough to live on, really) and, if he goes over that by the most miniscule amount, his benefits are history.

And, chances are, he won’t be getting them back.

I have looked into such benefits myself. After all, I only work part time, getting paid by the hour. Some months, that can add up to a fairly substantial amount of take-home pay. Other months, not so much.

When it comes down to it (I’ve done the math), at the end of the year, what I take home after taxes puts me squarely in the middle of poverty.

Yet, I still make too much money to qualify.

Thankfully, I still live at home, because I would never be able to afford my own place at this rate. At this point, I’m hoping I’ll be able to move out before I turn 30.

What I’m saying is that the limitations place by the government can be very detrimental to some people who may really need that SSI money.

You may have a high-paying job, but if your medical bills exceed the amount of money you make, and your insurance doesn’t cover everything, what are you supposed to do?

Hope that money tree in your backyard suddenly sprouts


Should there be some limits? Of course. SSI is something that should be based on need. That need cannot be discerned by placing blanket limitations over everyone who applies.

Is it really any wonder that the statistics on people living with disabilities are not encouraging? In order to receive any financial assistance, we have to work mediocre jobs, or not work at all.

If we don’t work, we’re lazy and milking the government. If we do work, however, then why do we need SSI?

Quite the ugly double standard, don’t you think?