Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance

All too often, inside-the-Beltway policy debates focus on dollars and deficits rather than on the millions of real people and real lives that are affected. That’s why it was refreshing to read Michael Hiltzik’s April 2 Los Angeles Times column (“Does Congress have the heart to avert disability crisis?”), which included several stories from real people who rely on Social Security disability insurance.

One of the people quoted in that article was Kira Fisher:

“”We all want to be taxpayers like everyone else,” says Kira Fisher, 35, a program advocate for the North Carolina branch of the Arc, a disability advocacy group. Fisher, who has cerebral palsy and also sustained injuries when a car hit her wheelchair last year, has been eligible for disability since 2002. She sees her $790 monthly checks as a bridge toward resuming work as a preschool educator or in full-time advocacy. “We don’t want to be getting a check for the rest of our lives,” she told me.”

Kira was also featured in a deeply moving video (“A Social Security Lifeline: Kira’s Story”) that the Arc of North Carolina produced as part of NASI’s “Improving Lives of Vulnerable Americans Through Social Security” project. This public education project, which was supported by the Ford Foundation, empowered Americans most reliant on Social Security to make their voices heard in policy debates about the program’s future.

By making her voice heard about Social Security disability insurance – in a major national newspaper, no less – Kira’s courage to speak up is putting a human face on the current conversations about disability insurance. Kira reminds us that disability insurance is about people, and that it’s critical to keep SSDI strong for her sake and for the sake of millions of other people who rely on this critical program.

Posted on: April 5, 2013

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