Copyright (c) 1993 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
Harvard Women's Law Journal
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: A CALCULUS FOR BIAS: HOW MALINGERING FEMALES AND DEPENDENT HOUSEWIVES FARE IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY SYSTEM
16 Harv. Women's L.J. 211
LINDA G. MILLS *
"You can have angina and have sort of phantom angina. . . . Her complaints have . . . given her a way out: when she gets tired she can always say she has pain. Let's be frank." 1
The two Social Security disability programs, Disability Insurance (DI) 2 and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 3 ("the disability programs") are basic staples of the United States welfare system. DI provides income replacement and medical coverage to disabled workers who have contributed substantially to Social Security, and subsequently have become unable to work due to illness or injury. SSI provides cash assistance and, in most states, medical coverage to disabled citizens based on income and resource limits, regardless of work history. 4 In 1990 over six million people were served by the disability programs, receiving a total of $ 33.75 billion in benefits and $ 30 billion in health care coverage. 5
In view of the number of people who depend on these programs in the event that they become disabled, various studies have attempted to identify biases in the system that may unfairly deny benefits to some applicants. 6 Yet while previous research has examined how bias may influence the Social Security process, it has not studied systematically the key features of the disability programs' substantive and procedural safeguards. The failure to do so holds particular implications for women: women who apply for benefits are more likely than men both to be denied benefits and to lose ...
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