I have some pertinent thoughts on this since I have filed an appeal for social security disability benefits. On Sunday I watched 60 Minutes which had a segment on the investigation into disability benefits, into the reasons for the substantial increase in the number of people receiving disability benefits. I was really heartened when I heard Sen. Tom Coburn say that "we ought to err on the side of someone being potentially disabled" and give them benefits.
One problem which was discussed is the number of disability lawyers advertising, the amount of money they earn from the federal government representing people who have been denied benefits on the first try, whether the lawyers are gaming the system by representing and getting benefits for clients who aren't really truly considered "disabled", meaning being unable to perform some type of job.
The problem with claiming these lawyers are overpaid or that they may be gaming the system is that the government's system for deciding who is considered "disabled" is flawed to begin with. About 80% of the people who apply for Disability benefits are denied the first time they apply for benefits. The only individuals who are approved are the very obvious ones with severe physical impairments. So in fact the government has created the need for these lawyers. If you are unable to see the person's ailment, for example if you're not in a wheel chair or didn't have a stroke or heart condition which affects your speech, walking, and use of limbs then you are not going to be approved the first time. I am in the being disapproved after the first try category. I was advised to hire a lawyer so I have done so. A huge problem is that whoever in the government decides whether you get approved or not assume that if you look or seem to be okay then you are okay. That is a wrongheaded assumption.
I never thought that I would be applying for Disability but I am. I don't want to be on disability but this is the way it must be for now. I had a hysterectomy for my endometriosis thinking that it would substantially ease my pain. The surgery helped for about 3 months then the extreme pain came back. I suffer from depression due to having the hysterectomy at 35 and having no kids. I suffer from some anxiety and other symptoms cause of surgical menopause. My red blood cells are too big and the doctors are having trouble figuring out the reason. This causes me to be dizzy, have the shakes in my hands and arms, and fatigue. I also have bad migraines or cluster headaches where for three days I have to lay down and am unable to eat very much. Then in April I started hurting very very badly in my bones and joints all over my body. Finally my doctors have figured out that its fibromyalgia. In the video the claim is that there are subjective symptoms in fibromayalgia and I guess that could be true for some symptoms, to some degree a few of the symptoms but at least some aren't subjective. Migraine headaches, vomiting from the migraine, and when a doctor examines your joints and/or bones and can tell that you are in extreme pain then your pain can be verifiable.
There probably is a small amount of disability applicants and lawyers gaming the system but anything can be abused and usually is by a few. Heck things like cough medicine and white out are misused. In addition to me you can't look at a piece of paper and claim to know whether that person is disabled or not disabled. I am going to update my skills and work on me a while - work on healing, treating symptoms - then I will be able to head back to work. But at this time there is no possible way I can work. I consider myself lucky when I don't have much pain which is only maybe 2 days per month.