Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Federal Definition of a Broke Ass Cripple




I just read something pretty hilarious. It’s called "Supplemental Security Income Modernization Project: Final Report of the Experts." 

It has 21 authors. They were the “experts” assembled by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration to make recommendations on how to “modernize” the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

SSI is the primary means of income for about 7 million broke ass American cripples. And I do mean broke ass. The average monthly SSI payment is $519.

And like I said, the report is quite a laugh riot in spots. But if I were you, I wouldn’t run out and buy a copy. You should just wait until "Supplemental Security Income Modernization Project: Final Report of the Experts" is adapted into a blockbuster movie. Because you have to machete your way through acres of tedium in order to find the best comic gems.  For example, there’s a big belly laugh in chapter III, which has the whacky title of “Needs-Based Issues-- Including the Elimination of In-Kind Support and Maintenance and Raising the Resources Limits While Streamlining the Exclusions.” The following uproarious phrase is found on page 70:  “A majority of the experts supported increasing the resources limits to $7,000 for an individual and $10,500 for a couple…”

I almost peed my pants when I read that! Because this report came out in 1992, when the SSI resource limit was $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. That meant that was pretty much all the money someone getting SSI could have to their name without getting kicked off the program. Guess what the resource limit is today. If you guessed that it’s still $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple, you win our grand prize!

So not only do SSI cripples have to be broke ass, they have to be broke ass in 1992 dollars! And here’s an even funnier line from the report: “All of the 19 experts who expressed a view… support an increase in the current $30 payment limit applicable to certain residents of medical institutions.” Those “certain residents of medical institutions” are SSI cripples who live in places like nursing homes. They are the broke assiest of broke ass cripples. In 1992, they were only allowed to keep $30 a month from their SSI checks. The rest was turned over to the nursing home.  So guess how much “certain residents of medical institutions” get to keep today. While you think about it I’ll go pour myself another shot. Okay I’m back. And the answer is------------ (drum roll)------------------ $30 a month!

Here’s one more knee-slapper from the report’s cover letter, written by Arthur Flemming, the leader of the panel of experts and former Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.  Flemming acknowledged that “modernizing” SSI costs money. “We are, however, the richest nation in the world,” he wrote. He then cited a Congressional Budget Office study that said the after-tax income of the upper one percent of Americans increased by 70 per cent between 1977 and 1989 while the income of lower 20 per cent declined nine percent. Flemming wrote, “I believe that it is only fair to ask the upper one percent to share a small portion of their wealth with the poor.”

Isn’t that priceless? How preciously na├»ve!

Nothing has changed because the broke ass aren’t a lobbying force. Oh there are noble liberals who lobby on behalf of the broke ass. But it’s not the same. The broke ass need to speak for themselves. A name like Broke Ass Disabled Activists on Social Security makes for a good acronym (BADASS). But I hate to use that “d” word—disabled. It’s much too polite. Cripple has so much more punch. And besides, cripples aren’t the only ones who are broke ass. You don’t have to be crippled to be broke ass, but it sure gives you a good head start.

A more inclusive and thus powerful lobbying force would be something like the National Association of the Broke Ass. Some cripples like to point out that everyone should care about what happens to the cripples because anyone can become crippled at any moment. The same can be said of the broke ass.

It wouldn’t take much for the organized broke ass to shake things up. All they have to do is show up where politicians hang out.  There’s nothing politicians fear more than being confronted by hoards of the broke ass.  They'll take swift action. They’ll demand that the Department of Homeland Security build an alligator-infested moat around Capitol Hill.

Chasing politicians is fun and its good exercise. It beats sitting around waiting to be modernized.