THE BLOG

Where Did YOUR 200 Billion Dollars Go?

06/23/2014 02:48 pm ET | Updated Aug 21, 2014

I get incensed. Perhaps that is my fatal flaw, but there is stuff that people do that just fries me and I cannot bury it as just a part of life. I fight and write letters and call congressmen and organizations starting as far up the ladder as I can before being pushed down to an ineffective uncaring bureaucrat who is paid to shut me up.

But I refuse to be silenced over a $200 billion dollar game played by many against my money - your money. And here's how it works.

I am a psychotherapist with a private practice but work one day a week at a clinic - my giveback. There is an unsettling epidemic I am finding in the clinic work. These are clients who have insurance and have to make their co-payments. They are not indigents. They have families and have had jobs - I state have had jobs because many of them are now on temporary or permanent disability and I'm not exactly sure why.

This will anger many, but payments of disability are coming directly out of your pocket - being that of your government. And many of these payments are unnecessary and sometimes even fraudulent. I get incensed at a broken process that cannot adequately determine who needs money and who does not and who is "double-dipping." The Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act, or SSDBRA, has instructed the government to place greater weight on an applicant's personal assessment. In other words, you can claim back pain keeps you from doing your job. While that may indeed be true from someone who has suffered legitimate back trauma from an accident or related incident, for others, it becomes a convenient way to stop work and collect money.

Working as a therapist, many come claiming some form of mental illness, which can range from depression to anxiety to social phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorders. Who among us has not had periodic depression or fear of something? And does the fact that you need to organize your books by size or wash your hands 20 times take you out of the workforce? Yes, there are those with severe debilitating depression and paralyzing anxiety and OCD that interferes with their everyday life., but it takes a professional to assess that and determine the severity of the problem. But in the Disability Game - you can call your own shots. Some clients come to me with temporary disability due to bereavement. I know grief. But if your 95-year old parent died over a year ago, don't you think you might be able to table the grief a few hours a day and get back on the job? Others come with the self-induced sentence of lifelong disability, meaning your government will pay them until the age of retirement to do nothing for reasons I cannot determine.

Disability is defined as the deprivation or lack of physical, emotional, or intellectual capacity to perform a task. Indeed, there are many who have been rendered disabled by physical injury, emotional distress or intellectual malfunctioning and are deserving of aid to compensate for their inability to work. But I have to question those who I feel are taking a vacation thanks to the government. Disability pays you based on what you were earning while working -- so why work?

The double dippers are the worst. They may have received a payment from their place of work or receive residuals (they count as income) or vacation pay or holiday pay or a bonus, non of which is reported to SSDBRA and all of which constitutes paid employment, yet they are paid again.

As a therapist, it is my job to discern the truth from my clients. Sometimes they own up and other times I need to be perceptive enough to see through layers of what they might be covering. Do they really need to be on disability or are they gaming the system? And if so, then what?

Would it astound you to find out that disability payments annually are above $200 billion dollars? That's a lot of backaches.

One more gripe while I'm at it. I bumped a car. I admit it, but going at the speed of about 5 miles per hour on the roadway that was not moving (LA traffic, You know?), when a low-to -the-ground convertible hits an SUV the size of a tank... well, you do the math. The owner of the SUV and I drove to a parking lot, walked around, talked, I made sure she was fine and multiple times she assured me she was. We both took the requisite photos. Yes, I was in the back so I am the culprit even though she stopped short and I had no where to go but into her bumper. I recognize my legal obligation to repair her car, but then was told that she hired some hotshot attorney to claim injury. Now the only way this person could have been injured is if she lay down in the road and was run over by a semi. This is another form of fraud perpetrated by the insurance company, a lawyer, and sadly a physician. And once again, I have refused to be quiet about it. I will take on all three, not because the money comes directly out of my pocket but because it comes out of all of yours.

We need insurance watchdogs that do their job for all of us, not insurance scalpers that rip us all off. This practice is "common" I've been told and I am embarrassed for my "victim" because I will go out and prove her a liar and I am outraged at a bogus physician's report. Lawyers never surprise me. They rank fairly low on the food chain of truth-tellers. I'm told that is not their job.

Someone come out and scream with me. One voice in the forest is not going to be heard. I need the village and need someone who really hears me. Yes, it is my job to help people overcome their mental, psychological, and emotional disorders, but it is not my job to perpetrate fraud on the government or anyone else.

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