Are you one of those hard-hearted souls who bristles at the notion that “children” should be allowed to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26?
Well, you’re probably not going to be very sympathetic to the Social Security disability benefits-collecting “adult baby” in California either:
The California man who lives part of his life as an “adult baby” and collects Social Security disability payments says the federal agency has cleared him of wrongdoing and will continue sending checks.
Stanley Thornton Jr. now wants an apology from Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who called for the benefit review because the investigation disrupted the final months of life for his roommate Sandra Dias, who playacted as his mother, spoon-feeding him and helping him into his baby clothes until her death in July.
A woodworker, Mr. Thornton builds adult-sized baby furniture, which he then enjoys using.
His troubles started when he appeared on a reality TV show, which led Senator Tom Coburn to ask a plausible question: Why was Thornton, who had a skill, collecting disability payments?
Before the senator's rude questions disrupted his taxpayer-funded idyll, Thornton and Ms. Dias pooled their disability benefits ($860 a month for each) to pay for housing.
Maybe Thornton really can’t function in the adult world. Or maybe he just prefers not to.
Nevertheless, because I am even meaner than Senator Coburn, I want to refer you to a foundational piece Heather Mac Donald wrote in 1995 on disability benefits, which she called “welfare’s next Vietnam.”
The explosive growth in disability payments reflects an unacknowledged shift in the function of the disability program. Disability increasingly supports people whose main problem is not a traditional medical impairment but a host of social handicaps that no doctor could cure. Many of these newer beneficiaries may indeed be unemployable, but their unemployability reflects rampant drug use, a chaotic upbringing, and a lack of education and work ethic rather than any physical impediment.
Behind this shift in the function of the disability program lies a revolution in the concept of disability, the crowning achievement of 15 years of litigation by welfare- and disability-rights advocates.
Running a welfare program under the guise of a disability program is extremely costly. More important, putting people on the dole for life does nothing to alleviate the social conditions that made them unemployable in the first place. It is time to ask whether the expansion in disability entitlements has gone too far.
Since I don't know the details of Mr. Thornton's situation, I’ll refrain from saying, "Oh, grow up, Stan."
But I will say that disability benefits turn too many people into adult babies.