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Anyone else feeling guilty about getting disability benefits?

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  • Anyone else feeling guilty about getting disability benefits?

    So, I got the paperwork back from the government. It says '11 points lost on the self-sufficiency scale' (out of a possible total of 18). That gets me a parking placard, a tax deduction, and probably an extra €100 a month or so (they call it an 'integration stipend').

    Because of this, an old demon is starting to haunt me again. When I was a kid (and even as a teenager), I would tell doctors not to bother trying to fix me, because I could live with who I was, and there were many people in the world who needed their help more than I did.

    While this is obviously true, it's also, according to at least one doctor I met, an example of tragically flawed reasoning. In the four years between my twelfth and my sixteenth birthday, he convinced me to submit to at least three different surgical procedures by telling me he had two kinds of patients: those like me who, with a little surgical help and a lot of hard work, would probably go on to lead a 'normal' life; and those like the boy across the hallway, who spent his days popping balloons and screaming, and whose parents were simply hoping for a way to make their lives and that of their son a little less miserable. According to that one doctor, working on the first kind of problem is many times more rewarding than working on the second kind.

    So, yeah, it's kind of a shitty argument. But it seems to have worked on me at the time, and maybe I can recognize now, ten years down the road, that refusing surgery because of some hypothetical other patient who might need it more is a stupid thing to do.

    But thanks to this letter I got today, I now have a similar but different problem. Government finances are a zero-sum game. Whatever amount of money the government invests in me -- through tax breaks, unclaimed parking fees and 'stipends' of all kinds -- cannot go to anyone else.

    Yes, I'm the one who decided to start the process in the first place, but that's because I need a piece of paper that says I'm 66% disabled (well, 50% or more, directly attributable to the lower extremities, in my case), or they won't let me onto the lift buses that serve the city where I work and hope to live some day. It is not because I ever wanted to get any other kind of government handout. I have a full-time job and plan to keep it, thank you very much.

    But the way the system works, I can't accept one of these things and turn down the rest. And yes, the integration fee and tax break will come in handy, in that they might enable me to actually afford an apartment big enough for a wheelchair user, in that big city where I work and hope to live some day.

    But it still feels like an unfair advantage, and a government expense that would be better spent elsewhere.

  • #2
    Things are different in the US, as far as disability benefits. If you earn over a set amount (I believe it is about $1000/month right now) you don't qualify for disability benefits (ie, a monthly check). And qualifying for disability benefits of this typeis done at the federal level. Qualifying for a parking placard is in the hands of the DMV at the state level (Department of Motor Vehicles) and is done via a letter from the doctor. Transit is handled usually at the town level.

    I guess in your case, I would say that if you don't need the stipend, to take it and give it back in some way ..... donating it where you think it would help the best. Perhaps helping out those kids you thought needed it more than you when you were a kid, or towards research to help cure some of the issues that have brought us here.

    It certainly sounds like there is no way to stay in the situation that you don;t NEED the monetary benefits, without accepting them, as if you were to lose the transportation, you wouldn't be able to work, an then would need the stipend .....
    T7-8 since Feb 2005

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    • #3
      at first.
      without it I would have died out though.

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      • #4
        Saranoya, you shouldn't feel guilty. You're doing what you need to do to work and live according to rules mandated by the guvmint. Why not use your improved mobility and the extra 100 euros a month to do some volunteer work? What's your favorite cause/passion? The environment, disadvantaged children, lonely elderly folks, homeless animals? You'd be doing good stuff for yourself and others and your conscience would be at ease. Great karma and everybody wins! I admire your sense of honor and ethics. If you decide to go that route, please write about it here!

        Wishing you the best!

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        • #5
          Nope because it's not forever just until you get on your feet literally or otherwise.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Saranoya View Post
            Because of this, an old demon is starting to haunt me again. When I was a kid (and even as a teenager), I would tell doctors not to bother trying to fix me, because I could live with who I was, and there were many people in the world who needed their help more than I did.

            While this is obviously true, it's also, according to at least one doctor I met, an example of tragically flawed reasoning. In the four years between my twelfth and my sixteenth birthday, he convinced me to submit to at least three different surgical procedures by telling me he had two kinds of patients: those like me who, with a little surgical help and a lot of hard work, would probably go on to lead a 'normal' life; and those like the boy across the hallway, who spent his days popping balloons and screaming, and whose parents were simply hoping for a way to make their lives and that of their son a little less miserable. According to that one doctor, working on the first kind of problem is many times more rewarding than working on the second kind.

            So, yeah, it's kind of a shitty argument. But it seems to have worked on me at the time, and maybe I can recognize now, ten years down the road, that refusing surgery because of some hypothetical other patient who might need it more is a stupid thing to do.

            Whatever amount of money the government invests in me -- through tax breaks, unclaimed parking fees and 'stipends' of all kinds -- cannot go to anyone else.

            It is not because I ever wanted to get any other kind of government handout. I have a full-time job and plan to keep it, thank you very much.

            But the way the system works, I can't accept one of these things and turn down the rest. And yes, the integration fee and tax break will come in handy, in that they might enable me to actually afford an apartment big enough for a wheelchair user, in that big city where I work and hope to live some day.

            But it still feels like an unfair advantage, and a government expense that would be better spent elsewhere.
            I totally understand where your coming from

            The things people say to high functioning disabled kids can be really wrong. I have Ptsd rages about what some well meaning adults (disabled,ab,walking sci) said to me growing up

            I have an issue with receiving govt disability benefit FOR MYSELF because I can get a job(the fact I chose to get kicked out of school because I couldn't handle my school OT) its an education issue

            I have tried to get my benefit changed to reflect this(no luck)

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            • #7
              No, I deserved a huge payout. Fuck the system and everyone in it!

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              • #8
                You'll need it as you age and your needs change. You don't have the same freedoms as everyone else socially, in the job market, transportation-wise and in every way.

                Wish there was something for me .. actually I wish I could go back to work.
                Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

                T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

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                • #9
                  I think it's different for you, Todd. Medical professionals you were supposed to be able to trust made mistakes to land you where you are. Although mistakes can happen and are rarely a sign of ill will on the part of the people who make them, I can definitely understand feeling entitled to some kind of compensation under those circumstances.

                  Me? I just had a run of bad luck. Had I not been born with CP, a bum knee would not have had nearly as big an impact on my mobility as it does now. Had I not fallen off a height, I wouldn't have had a bum knee. Had that knee not gotten infected while healing, it would not have been nearly as non-functional as it currently.

                  I have nobody to blame for any of those things, except maybe an unlucky combination of fate and my own stupidity. And the fact of the matter is, many people were dealt a significantly worse hand than me. I have the ability to work, and not only that, but I found an employer who didn't think the wheelchair automatically disqualified me as a valuable asset to their company (that took some doing, believe me). There are plenty of people who aren't that lucky, and there will be many of those in the future. But if tomorrow, someone entirely loses the ability to work and they petition the government for disability benefits, they might not get everything they need, just because people like me have to be paid first.

                  There's a difference between getting compensation for real costs that cannot be covered any other way, and just having your life made a little easier, when it's already perfectly livable, while people with more pressing needs are left out in the cold.

                  I like the idea of investing the money in someone else who needs it more. I will have to think about where it will have the most impact because, in the grand scheme of things, €100 a month isn't really that much money ...

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