Having explained how truly difficult it is to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, I can tell you from experience that everyone seems to know someone (a brother-in-law, a neighbor, that guy in the handicapped parking space) who they believe is getting such benefits fraudulently.

For example, someone recently complained to me that she knows a woman who is getting disability benefits who takes kickboxing lessons. Someone else saw a neighbor who is on disability cleaning his gutters. Another reader told me about a guy “with a fake disability” who was painting a house. Somehow, those little snippets of daily life proved to them that these folks were cheating the system.

Well, just because a woman is taking kickboxing lessons and a guy is cleaning his gutters and another guy is doing some painting does not prove they are healthy and don’t deserve disability benefits. Maybe one has cancer and another has some severe mental issues and the other has kidney disease. I don’t know. And these accusers don’t know either. You simply cannot make broad assumptions about their eligibility for disability benefits without knowing all the facts.

Someone else told me about a guy who was getting disability benefits who “gambles all his money away every month at a local casino.” She went on to say, “This proves the system is corrupt.”

Well, no, it does not prove that. It might prove the guy is a bad money manager. But that’s got nothing to do with the fact that he has a disability that qualifies him for monthly benefits. If there was a little old lady who gambled away half of her Social Security retirement check every month, would you say that “proves the system is corrupt”? No. It just proves there is a woman probably not making the smartest decisions about how to spend her Social Security retirement money. And so, too, there are people who don’t spend their Social Security disability money very wisely.

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