U.S. Social Security Vs. the United Kingdom’s Disability Allowance

In the United States our health care standards are consistently lagging behind other civilized countries. I can find hundreds of reminders of how and why other countries just do it better. Here is a look at one example of an extremely useful benefit offered to citizens of the United Kingdom.

The Disability Living Allowance is a tax-free benefit provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for Work and Pension for people under the age of 65 who have a long-term physical or mental illness or disability causing them to need help looking after themselves (care component) or walking and getting around(mobility component).

Unlike Medicare and Social Security in the United States, the funds are given to the person being cared for and deposited after 28 days in the hospital and monthly thereafter either directly into a bank account or by order book which you can cash at the post office. The cash benefits available are not based on the amount of money you have earned for over your lifetime, but rather it is paid at different rates depending on how the disability affects you. In fact, Disability Living Allowance is non-contributory, which means that you do not need to have made National Insurance contributions in order to be entitled to it. It also does not take into consideration any other income or savings that you may currently have.

Here in the United States, I have a friend who was diagnosed with a fairly serious, but not debilitating, lung deformity as a young child. His ailment is severe enough that he is technically classified as disabled and has been able to draw on Social Security since the age of twelve. From his appearance, you could not tell anything was wrong with him at all. He is fully capable of functioning as a regular person.

However, in order to maintain his benefits he was told not to work or generate income exceeding a certain amount. Stipulations like this make it hard to believe that the Social Security system has not already collapsed.

The funds for Social Security are tax based, which means just about every person who has a job contributes as a percentage of their income. (Quick math: more income equals greater contribution) This means if the people receiving benefits are able to hold a job that is qualified for Social Security deductions they would actually be contributing to the pool of benefits that they and others draw on. At the very least, why not simply require that the job benefit receivers hold is eligible to contribute to Social Security? How is it reasonable to tell someone who is capable and willing to work, in whatever way they are able, that they can not make more than a certain amount? This actually encourages those who can work to stay at home and wait on their checks instead.

Needless to say, my friend did get a job and lose his government benefits. It is not like Social Security pays enough to live on anyway.