With the sequestration crisis forcing many government cutbacks, some lawmakers have been suggesting that a program seen as a handout to people who don’t really deserve it — Social Security disability — be cut back as well. However, to the millions of people who depend on the benefits, including many in the Atlanta area, this is a gross misconception.

Most people who receive Social Security benefits are honest folks who would gladly work if they could. However, many jobs these days are physically demanding ones that people who suffer from any number of maladies simply cannot do.

Additionally, the amount of benefits that people who are eligible receive is not an exorbitant sum. For many people who receive benefits, any amount that is received from Social Security disability is likely just about the only income they have.

In response to critics who say that some people aren’t working even though they could, it is important to note that disability rates are often tied to the kind of work that is available. For example, the state of West Virginia has the highest rate of people receiving disability benefits in the country. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that 15 percent of jobs there involve physically taxing work such as construction, mining or transportation. This is contrasted with a state such as California, which has one of the lowest rates of people receiving benefits; in that state, less than 10 percent of the jobs fall into a similar category.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Does Congress have the heart to avert disability crisis?” Michael Hiltzik, April 2, 2013