In case you haven’t seen it, the Boston Globe is publishing a three-part series on poor families that medicate their kids — sometimes for flimsy reasons — so that they can be classified as disabled and thus qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments.
The reporting, by Patricia Wen, is first-rate. And to point out the obvious, the series, titled “The Other Welfare,” is the sort of accountability journalism that is rarely done by any news organizations other than major newspapers.
What I especially like about the series is that, rather than blaming the families, Wen takes pains to point out the difficult circumstances under which they live. As one single mother, Geneva Fielding, puts it, referring to the medication her 10-year-old son is taking for impulsiveness:
Sometimes I don’t know why we get a check for this. But if someone says you have ADHD and you’re depressed and you can get a check, they’re going to try to get a check. The poor people will take that every time. It’s all about surviving.
A chilling example of unintended consequences.