Disability Still Big Business 2017

by Lewis Loflin

Also see Disability the Hidden Unemployment Program

In low-wage job scarce communities many often turn to disability checks to earn a living. Having many members of the same household each "drawing" a check is a bonanza when other benefits such as Medicaid, etc. are thrown in. In fact drive along I-81 in Bristol Virginia one will see a billboard ad from various law firms. Gene Cochran Attorneys at Law (276-676-2722) advertise their specialty "Personal injury, Social Security Disability, and Workers' Compensation." Mr. Cochran isn't alone.

In addition to billboards on the back of most phone books in this area one finds a full page ad for the Arrington, Schelin, & Herrell P.C. Law firm (276-669-9111) that on Social Security Disability and Worker's Compensation claim they are "Confidential, Aggressive, & Experienced" in getting you that government check, for a percentage. And like Gene Cochran, no charge if no check (except for costs advanced).

In another full page ad Massengill & Caldwell P.C. (423-764-1174) even have "hospital and home appointments available." Now that's real service when doctors are hard to find in this area, but disability lawyers will come to your home!

This is in no way to suggest anything sleazy just where the money is in our community and it sure isn't from the typical restaurant job.

Not only do we have ambulance chasers, but government check chasers. And it's all legal and a big industry here. How big is disability in this area? According to census figures (2016) notes the following disability rates:

Virginia 8.7%
W. Virginia 17.2%
Tennessee 12.8%.

I looked at several counties in Southwest Virginia and the figures came as no surprise:

Russell County Pop. 28,557 disabled 7,759 - 27.1%
Scott County Pop. 22,706 disabled 5,372 - 23.7%
Smyth County Pop. 31,553 disabled 6,889 - 21.8%
Dickenson County Pop. 15,595 disabled 4,952 - 29.3%
Lee County Pop. 24,089 disabled 6,036 - 25%
Washington County Pop. 54,321 disabled 10,200 - 18.8%

I didn't get the data for Buchanan and Wise Counties but they certainly parallel neighboring Russell and Dickenson Counties. Washington County (where I reside) is the wealthiest county in far Southwest Virginia is still worse off than W. Virginia and the number of those disabled far exceeds any of the other counties. The neighboring Tennessee counties do a little worse than the Tennessee average but nowhere near Southwest Virginia.

Looking at the Southwest Virginia health outcomes at the top of the page the stats speak for themselves - near the bottom in Virginia. But note the health outcomes on the Tennessee side of Tri-Cities is far better more like Washington County Virginia in the middle while Sullivan County and Washington Counties Tennessee are in the top third for Tennessee.

I think it's fair to say disability levels can reflect poverty levels. But do they really? I'll explain that in coming days.

See Red States Higher Standard of Living. We are Red and more Red here.