North Carolina Social Security Disability Reform: Lessons from Greece (Part 1)

October 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a two part series, the DeMayo Law North Carolina social security disability blog will examine a common “meme” in the political world. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been mulling over the “situation in Greece” and wondering what the situation in the Mediterranean might portend for the United States’ government benefits programs.

We won’t get into too much detail regarding the background: even a basic historical overview of what’s happened recently in Greece would take 20 to 30 pages. But suffice it to say that the Mediterranean nation — which was once the central powerhouse of the western world — is struggling mightily with debt accrued, at least in part, because of an overextended program of entitlements. The country’s economic productivity is not sufficient to pay off Greece’s committed obligations to protected groups, such as retirees, state pension owners, students, etc.

This budgetary imbalance is complicated by the fact that Greece belongs to the European Union, an economic and quasi political confederacy that maintains its own currency but lacks a cohesive nationality. Economically stronger nations in the European Union, such as Germany, are sort of being put in a position of having to “bail out” the economically weaker nations, like Greece and Spain.

To curry favor with the EU, governments in these nations have tried to impose so called “austerity measures” to clamp down on benefits and thus stop the downward economic spiral. But these measures have not gone over well, and some recent protests have turned violent.

Many pundits in Europe and elsewhere worry that the United States might be headed down a similar path to the one that Greece is on. These pundits want to enact reforms to Social Security Disability and other government programs to stave off the disastrous end game that we see playing out in the Mediterranean today.

•    On the one hand, advocates of this theory can draw many compelling parallels between our situation and Greece’s situation from several years ago.
•    On the other hand, we are taking about two very different kinds of economies, so it’s not just a simple apples-to-apples comparison – it’s more like apples-to-coconuts.

The differences between the two entitlement-related “crises” are important, potentially vitally so, if we want to make the most effective reforms possible.

In Part II, we will talk more specifically about what Greece can teach us about social security disability reform. Until then, if you need help with your case – getting benefits, fighting at Reconsideration or at an Administrative Law Judge hearing – get in touch with the DeMayo Law team to discuss your options.

 
 

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