Sen. Tom Cotton Tried to Link Social Security Disability Benefits to Drug Addiction

According to a recent news article from MSNBC, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) is now suggesting a connection between the millions of Americans collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and serious drug addiction.

1034029_medicine_2The controversy started when Cotton was making a speech at a conservative foundation and started talking about how Social Security disability benefits have changed from a safety net for those who can’t work to the “norm” where people are just expected to apply for benefits. He said this was particularly prevalent in the Southern Appalachian region of the country.

He then went on to say that this situation is a result of both a population decline in some areas of the country and an increase in the amount of drug addiction involving heroin, methamphetamine (crystal meth), and prescription painkillers. He said that he is unsure if the disability benefits system created the problem in the first place but said it is now contributing to the problem.

Cotton called the Social Security Disability Insurance a “corrosive” program that cities and towns across the nation should be weary of, because it will only encourage more drug addiction. This is essentially the same argument Sen. Rand Paul used when he was first running for president, at which time he said if you are working, you do not have to sit at home and use heroin. This was part of his argument as to why most disability benefits recipients were lazy and pretended to be disabled to avoid work.

As part of his attempt to make his theory seem more sound and scientific, Cotton talked about what he called a “disability tipping point.” Essentially, Cotton argues that there is normally a stigma associated with collecting Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, where the community will look down on those benefits recipients as lazy freeloaders who would rather get benefits checks than go to work. However, he further argues that, once people in the community start receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, there will no longer be a stigma associated with drawing benefits, due to what he sees as some type of safety in numbers.

Eventually, if this is allowed to continue, Cotton says, the norm will change from working for a living to collecting benefits for an entire community, and this occurs when the community has reached the disability tipping point.

The problem with this entire line of argument is that it relies on many presuppositions that our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance benefits attorneys known to be false. First, nearly 11 million people receive disability benefits, and the vast majority of these individuals would much rather be healthy and able to work than on disability benefits. Contrary to what these politicians are saying, receiving Social Security disability benefits is not some kind of communicable disease that eventually takes over a community, but rather a program that gives people the ability to care for themselves and their families with dignity, even if they suffer from a disability. With respect to the drug argument, there has been no credible study showing this to be true.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Cotton connects disability benefits, drug addiction, November 13, 2015, MSNBC, by Steve Benen

More Blog Entries:

Social Security Disability Claims Process, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog

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