Social Security Benefits Trap People in Poverty

Steven Doble and Faith are moving their belongings into cardboard boxes after living at Oakbrook Apartments in Vancouver for eight years. Their landlord sent an eviction notice in late December after failing to pay their rent.

Doble and Faith can’t pack much independently because they are both physically disabled. Doble uses a cane, and Faith uses a walker.

Doble, 54, has polycystic kidney disease. Polycystic kidney disease is characterized by creating many cysts in one or both kidneys. The progression of cyst size and number leads to renal enlargement and insufficiency, as well as extrarenal symptoms. A cyst is a fluid-filled pocket supported by connective tissue bordered by epithelial cells. The disease resulted in the removal of both of Doble’s kidneys. Every week he requires dialysis three times for approximately four hours.

Faith has multiple forms of neuropathy. In addition, she has type II diabetes and a heart condition. She requires 24-hour care. She receives support from a live-in caregiver and takes several medications.

Neuropathy is a nerve condition that causes pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, or muscle weakness in various areas. It commonly starts with the hands or feet and worsens over time. Cancer or cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, can result in neuropathy. Physical injury, illness, toxic substances, or diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, or malnutrition can also cause it.

Doble applied for Social Security disability benefits in 2013. He stated the process took four months and was relatively simple.

Faith’s experience, on the other hand, has been far from easy. In the spring of 2021, she applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. She also applied for Supplemental Security Income. There has been no update on her application status for more than a year.

According to AARP, the average wait time for an initial disability decision at the Social Security Administration reached an all-time high of more than six months in August 2022. Making matters worse, the average disability applicant now waits more than two years for a final decision, and more than 10,000 people die each year without receiving an answer.

Faith can’t pay her share of the rent because she doesn’t have disability benefits. When she looked for low-income housing, she discovered that the wait might last up to three years. Unfortunately, this is typical; the average family in the U.S. is on a waiting list for two and a half years. In addition, SSI has an asset limit of $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple.

Delays in receiving Social Security benefits are causing more people, such as Doble and Faith, to become homeless. According to Community Services Supervisor Breanne Swanson, the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington has experienced a “significant rise in calls from people at risk of homelessness, facing eviction, or in need of affordable housing.”

Nobody should be forced to live in poverty or be homeless. The United States’ disability benefits system needs reform. Benefits should be increased, and the application process should be streamlined.


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Hammi, Claudia, and Brent Yeung. Neuropathy. StatPearls Publishing, 15, Oct. 2022,

Konish, Lorie. “As Social Security Disability Application Wait Times Hit Record High, Experts Say It’s a Sign the Agency Needs More Funding.” CNBC, CNBC, 16 Sept. 2022,

“Number of Recipients, 1974–2020.” Social Security Administration, Social Security Administration, 1 Dec. 2020,

Turner, Kelsey. “People with Disabilities in Clark County Face Evictions, Homelessness as Federal Benefits Stall.” The Columbian, Columbian Publishing Co. , 13 Jan. 2023,

Zahid, Rabia, et al. ‘Prevalence, Risk Factors and Disease Knowledge of Polycystic Kidney Disease in Pakistan’. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, vol. 34, SAGE Publications Ltd, Jan. 2020, p. 2058738420966083, https://doi.org10.1177/2058738420966083.

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