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Letters: Disability insurance and depression

April 06, 2013

Re "Disability: the new welfare?," Opinion, April 2

Jonah Goldberg is correct that the increase in Social Security disability beneficiaries deserves scrutiny, but he shows a misunderstanding of how the program works.

It is relatively challenging for a claimant to qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration does not simply accept certification from a physician, and it has its own evaluation units that comb through medical records.

So why are there so many more people receiving disability? As Goldberg notes, the availability of legal representation is certainly a factor. Also, a large number of beneficiaries are older individuals who haven't yet reached retirement but are suffering health consequences from a lifetime of physical labor. This is not inappropriate, as the program does factor in age and transferable skills. Perhaps many of them would not have lived long enough 50 years ago to pursue benefits.

The real question is how can we provide jobs to those who have little to offer an employer.

Erica Hahn

Monrovia

When one takes the writings of a right-wing columnist (Jonah Goldberg) and adds to that the writings of an author from the right-wing American Enterprise Institute (Nicholas Eberstadt), it's not surprising that one ends up with a medieval description of the very real illness called depression.

I am currently on Social Security disability insurance, suffering from major depressive disorder with suicidal features. About a year ago, I spent three nights in intensive care while a machine did my breathing for me. After that, I spent more time stabilizing at UCLA's Resnick Neuropsychiatric Institute. Yet little did my doctors understand that the only real problem was that I was "suffering from sad feelings."

Congratulations to Drs. Goldberg and Eberstadt for putting the entire mental health system out of business with their simplistic and sneering diagnosis. Now that I am cured, I should send back my Social Security checks.

Randal Snyder

Los Angeles

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