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Disability insurance observer: Snow

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The office in Hoboken, N.J. — “my” office — is a couple of blocks away from a Social Security Administration office that handles many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications.

Perhaps as a result of that, reasonably generous soup kitchens, plentiful supplies of aluminum cans that can traded for cash in New York, and access to bars and liquor stores, Hoboken has a large contingent of panhandlers.

I’ve given a few pennies to one panhandler who has told me that he’s optimistic about the claim he has filed with the Social Security office. I thought I might interview him at some point about the human side of dealing with endless SSDI claim determination delays.

I told him that I hoped things would get better, and that the weather would get better. (It seemed to me that good weather would be useful for a panhandler.)

The panhandler told me, “No, I’m hoping for snow. Then I get work shoveling snow!”

I don’t know much about this guy, and maybe he has some horrible illness that makes holding down a full-time, permanent job challenging, but to me: A guy who can shovel snow is not my idea of a great candidate for SSDI coverage.

Certainly, there must be many people out there who can barely get out of bed, or who can’t get out of bed, who are having trouble qualifying for SSDI, but, in all fairness, there must be some chaff still left in the system. 

One of the stories is that the best cure for what ails SSDI is really improvement in the job market, so that workers who might not be ideal hires but are able-bodied enough to shovel snow from time to time can get work that is compatible with whatever it is that made them think about applying for SSDI in the first place.

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