It’s about that time that rumors begin to circulate about the next potential presidential candidates, and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently completed a two-day tour in New Hampshire, which is the first Republican primary state. It’s expected that the tea partier will run for President in 2016.
What stands out about this week’s visit are Paul’s remarks regarding disability benefits, made during a breakfast with New Hampshire state legislators. According to the Huffington Post, the Social Security Disability Program, which is considered “the little brother” of the Social Security Retirement Insurance program, is scheduled to run out of money next year.
“What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting your disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club,” Paul said. “Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts. Everybody over 40 has a little back pain.”
The problem is that the disability system is overburdened and is expected to run out of funds in 2016. Then, payroll taxes will only cover 81% of benefits that are scheduled. According to Paul, “In all of these programs there’s always somebody who’s deserving. But everybody in this room knows somebody who is gaming the system.”
“It is normal for people to have back pain. In fact, 80% of the adult population will experience back pain at some time in their life, the spine has a lot of load to carry,” says Penny Forbes of Sierra Regional Spine Institute. “As we age normal wear and tear of the bones, joints and muscles occur – and the back is no exception. Pain and discomfort result from this wear and tear, senator Rand is not being insensitive. There are definitely people out there who have difficulty functioning day to day because of their back condition- and Rand admits those people deserve help. Unfortunately, there are those who have abused the disability system, so the system has been forced to investigate, doubt and deny. This creates hardships for those deserving of the help.”
Back pain is actually the leading cause of disability for Americans under the age of 45. Additionally, back pain is one of the most common reasons that Americans miss work, and more than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 suffer from frequent back pain.
A video of Paul’s rant was uploaded by American Bridge, which, according to their website, “is a research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions and helping you ascertain when Republican candidates are pretending to be something they’re not.”
“We absolutely should take care of those truly in need of help. But the system is broken, and when people can game the system, they are stealing from those who are truly disabled and won’t receive the care and aid they need,” Paul said later in a statement.