The Colbert Report took aim last week at the media’s crusade against recipients of disability benefits. While inequality has been rising for 40 years, two government assistance programs have seen an increase recently, due to the poor economy: food stamps and disability benefits. That is too much for some pundits, who say that more of a “stigma” should be attached to receiving public assistance. Stephen Colbert’s satirical take on this rightly portrays the attack as a witch hunt.
Critics of disability benefits wonder whether all recipients are “truly disabled.” Do they know better than the doctors who have diagnosed these disabilities? Pundits who characterize disability benefits as a government “handout” are ignoring one of the most basic facts about the Social Security system: in the case of Social Security Disability Insurance, these benefits are available to workers who have paid into the system with their taxes. Disability recipients are not freeloaders; they have paid their “premiums” just as with any other type of insurance.