Sorry, I have a mood disorder, so I quit!
Now where's my disability check?
America is the greatest country in the world. We can support our poor and sick with ease, and millions of less-fortunate people rely on the government to meet their daily needs in the form of Social Security payments. This system works so well, that hundreds of thousands of new beneficiaries have flocked to it since 2009. Now, the system is handling over 1.3 million claims just for mood disorders, which are sharply rising.
Since when does feeling sad entitle one to government assistance?
Mood disorder recipients account for millions of dollars in paid benefits each year.
Strangely, mood disorders are not distributed proportionately among the 50 states and other US territories in a way that can be readily explained. For example, one-third of Puerto Ricans on disability are paid for having mood disorders. However, in American Samoa, only 3.1 percent needed benefits for the same issue.
The states also had equally odd distributions. Massachusetts is paying 22.2 percent of its recipients for mood disorders while Louisiana paid 9.7 percent, a near-tie with Montana who paid only 9.8 percent of its recipients for mood disorders.
There is also a difference between the sexes. More than 11 percent of men on disability are collecting the money for mood disorders while nearly 20 percent of women are doing the same.
Mood disorders are defined by the Social Security Administration as "anxiety-related" and "affective." Victims must show at least four of the following symptoms:
- Severe depression
- Loss of interest in all activities
- Appetite disturbance
- Sleep disturbance
- Psycho-motor agitation or retardation
- Decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Thoughts of suicide
- Paranoid thinking
There are two immediate questions spawned by this report. First, what is causing all these mood disorders? And second, why do some places have more mood disorders than others? Why would Puerto Rico, a tourist destination with beautiful sandy beaches, and warm weather have nearly a third of its disabled residents unable to work because of their mood while a mere 3 percent of Samoans also living in a tourist destination with beautiful sandy beaches and warm weather, don't suffer the same?
Certainly, there are a number of individuals with genuine mood disorders in every population, including Puerto Rico. The seriousness of their condition should not be trivialized, because these people endure significant daily struggles as they attempt to cope with the stress of daily survival. For them, every day is a battle.
However, would it be fair to suggest that this is not the situation for all those receiving this aid? What is Louisiana doing right that Massachusetts is not?
If Americans want Social Security to remain viable long into the 21st century, they would do well to answer that question, and quickly.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: mood disorders, disability, health, depression, fleecing
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