A must-read thread shows how assistance programs keep disabled people in poverty

An eye-opening Tumblr thread posted to Reddit shows how federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs designed to help disabled people actually help keep them in poverty.

Reddit user iDogeYT posted this thread that explains how people with disabilities are not allowed to have more than $2,000 to their name or the benefits they depend on are automatically shut off.

This leaves them unable to save for a rainy day, educational opportunities, or to buy a home or car.



via Reddit

According to Disability Secrets, "To be eligible to receive SSI benefits based on disability, an SSI applicant or a current SSI recipient who is single cannot have more than $2,000 in assets."

If the disabled person is married (even if only one person is eligible for disability), the asset limit is $3,000. The only assets the able-bodied spouse can have are an IRA or pension plan.

If the disabled person has a child under the age of 18, they are only allowed $2,000 in resources.

Resources that are counted in the $2,000 limit, include:

— Money in a checking or savings account

— Cash value in life insurance policies (over $1,500)

— Stocks and bonds

— Household goods and personal effects (over $2,000)

— Motor vehices (except for one), and

— Real estate (other than the home in which a claimant resides)

If a person on disability exceeds their asset limits their benefits can be immediately cancelled.

So, to put it simply, the same program that's supposed to help disabled people can keep an entire family impoverished and unable to accumulate any assets.

via Alexander Edward / Flickr

There is one way that disabled people can accumulate assets, through the Achieving a Better Life Experience program. This allows people who experienced an "onset of disability" before the age of 26 to put up to $100,000 in tax-advantaged savings without having their disability benefits affected.

Since the act was passed in 2014, over 34,000 people have opened up ABLE accounts and over $171.7 million have been invested. The program is available in 41 states and Washington, D.C.

However, what if you became disabled after the age of 26? What if you were the victim of an accident or had a disease? What if you returned home from war in Iraq with a missing limb? Then sorry, you can't have more than $2,000 in your bank account.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania is trying to change the law so more people with disabilities are eligible for ABLE accounts. He has sponsored the ABLE Age Adjustment Act which would raise the age for the onset of a disability to 46 and allow up to 6 million more people save for the future.

"Sometimes the onset of a disability can occur much later in life," Casey told a small crowd of individuals with disabilities last year.

Disability programs are designed to give people more independence, not confine them to a life of poverty. In a capitalist society where cash is king and social programs are lean, financial independence is as important as being physically or mentally independent.

The government should reconsider its punitive limits on the assets of disabled people so they can become more independent and and have a greater chance to be fully integrated into society.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less