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Unfit for work: the startling rise of disability in America


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Unfit for work: the startling rise of disability in America

By Chana Joffe-Walt

 

http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

 

In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government.

 

The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for disabled former workers than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. Yet people relying on disability payments are often overlooked in discussions of the social safety net. The vast majority of people on federal disability do not work.[1] Yet because they are not technically part of the labor force, they are not counted among the unemployed.

 

In other words, people on disability don't show up in any of the places we usually look to see how the economy is doing. But the story of these programs -- who goes on them, and why, and what happens after that -- is, to a large extent, the story of the U.S. economy. It's the story not only of an aging workforce, but also of a hidden, increasingly expensive safety net.

 

(Story continues at link above)

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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Excellent article.  Thanks for bringing it to our attention.  The SSDI program plays such an important role in providing a safety net for those who become temporarily or permanently disabled.  But, the figures and stories are mind-boggling.

07.2004 Prozac. Greadually increased to 40mg. Good control of depression, but eventually developed muscle spasms and akathesia.

08.2010 Switched to Celexa. Suicidal ideation was constant.  Unable to sleep without ambien.

05.2012 Switched to Zoloft. Absolutely the BEST control of depression but caused severe bloating and rapid weight gain. Acne.

11.00.2012 Returned to Prozac 40mg

04.00.2013 Prozac 40mg + Wellbutrin 150mg

06.25.2013 Prozac 60mg and Wellbutrin 300mg

07.08.2013 GRAND MAL SEIZURE

07.09.2013 Prozac 40mg and Wellbutrin 300mg

07.26.2013 Prozac 40mg and Wellbutrin 150 mg

08.01.2014 Prozac 40mg and Wellbutrin ZERO

08.09.2013 Prozac 30.0 mg

09.13.2013 Prozac 27.5 mg

10.04.2013 Prozac 25.0 mg

10.25.2013 Prozac 22.5 mg

11.15.2013 Prozac 20.0 mg

12.06.2013 Prozac 15.0 mg

12.21.2013 Prozac 10.0 mg

 

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Can't believe I missed the obvious typo in the heading. That is very unlike me and the 2nd time it happened in few days.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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In Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic he cites the skyrocketing rates of mental-illness disability since the introduction and widespread use of psychiatric drugs as one of the things that drew him to the "detective" work that led to the book itself.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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In Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic he cites the skyrocketing rates of mental-illness disability since the introduction and widespread use of psychiatric drugs as one of the things that drew him to the "detective" work that led to the book itself.

I dont recall if Whitaker talked about how people are being pushed onto SSDI (federal program, usually permanent) from state run unemployment and Welfare programs that are time-limited. I have witnessed this in my hometown where steel mills and coal mining have become defunct in the last few decades. Apparently, SSDI is based not only on medical condition but also availability of jobs (explained in article). I was similarly forced onto SSDI by my company's private disability administrator. They hired a company to do the applications and send me to doctor appointments. It was in the midst of work comp litigation so I never knew what each appointment was for. And then I hear of people who struggle through years of denials and appeals while they cannot work...I suspect pharma benefits greatly by more people on SSDI.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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