Despite improved medical care and the workforce’s dramatic shift from physical to mental labor, the number of Americans claiming disability keeps growing. You start to feel like a sucker if you’re not one of them.
On my TV show, DeHaven said today even poor parents “try to get their kids on psychotropic medications in hopes of qualifying for a check that goes to Dad and Mom.”
Since the 80s, there has been a 300 percent increase in disability claims for hard-to-prove illnesses like back pain, stress and other “non-exertional restrictions.” Over the past two decades, the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits grew from 4 million to 11 million.
“It’s like any other government program,” says DeHaven. “You start off with good intentions and then it becomes something that it was never supposed to be.”
We all want to help the genuinely disabled, but a wide range of subjective ailments are affected by attitude. Labeling people victims, telling them they need help, teaches some to think like victims. Social scientists call that “learned helplessness.”
Private charities are pretty good at separating real victims from malingerers. But government is not. Its one-size-fits-all rules encourage people to act like victims.
Whether people have real physical ailments or just see the economic deck stacked against them, the most damaging thing say to them is: Give up. You can’t make it on your own. Wait for help.