The American Association for Disability Policy Reform    

—   rehabilitation first   —

The Disability Lottery

Unpredictable variations in decision-making have turned the disability program into a lottery for most claimants.   These include:

A claimant with health insurance is able to influence his or her chances of winning the disability lottery by obtaining medical care from different (multiple) sources until he or she finds a doctor who favors his or her case.   This strategy is not available to the poor.   A claimant with money is also able to influence his or her chances of winning the disability lottery by (a) moving to a state with a high allowance rate, or (b) moving to an area served by a hearing office with with a high allowance rate (details).   Those without health insurance and/or money (often the ones who need disability benefits the most) are less able to influence their chances of winning.   Thus, the disability program discriminates against the poor (details).

From time to time, the Social Security Administration has attempted to reduce or eliminate the disability lottery.   It has always failed because no one has been able to find a reliable method for evaluating subjective complaints (pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc.) (details).   Without fundamental changes in our approach to impaired persons who are unemployed, we can expect the Social Security disability program to continue to function as a lottery.


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Last updated on 2/26/16.