Are Deaf people who are on SSI really lazy?

Melinni Taylor, owner and founder of Deaf Future Works, debunks the SSI stigma with the reality of our society. Melinni is one of the few Community Partner Work Incentive counselors fluent in ASL. She works with clients to understand and manage their Social Security Benefits.

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ID: Melinni, a white female with short dark silver gray hair. She is wearing a denim blue buttoned shirt, small silver earrings, black rimmed glasses, and pink lipstick. She is seated in an industrial building with gray railings behind her. She is seated with a wooden table in front of her.

MELINNI: Are Deaf people who are on SSI lazy? No.

ID: Graphics pops over Melinni “Why the SSI Stigma?” in white and green font.

MELINNI: To be eligible for SSI, the person must have limited income, including children as well. With SSI, the money is tight, even with the federal rate of $750/month for individuals (ID: Green and white text pops out “$750 per month”) and $1,125/month for couples (ID:Green and white text pops out “$1,125 per month”). It’s truly not enough.

ID: A photograph of Melinni wearing a blue top, multi colored drop earrings and red lipstick with greens behind her. Graphics appear showing “This is Melinni, founder of Deaf Future Works”. Deaf Future Works logo appears with blue silhouette reaching for gold star on left atop of letters spelling out the business name with its tagline: “Make the future work for you!” in gold against white background. Another image of Melinni at her desk with two screens, on her laptop shows hint of her in a call. She is seated on left side of the photo watching the screen with her hands clasped in front of her. Graphics of green and white text “which provides accessible, useful benefits counseling.” appears over the image.

ID: Image of Social Security pamphlets appear on screen with graphic of white and green text: “ But what’s the goal of SSI anyway?”

MELINNI: What is SSI? It means Supplemental Security Income, for people who are blind, people with disabilities, and senior citizens. Why? It is to provide economic security.

ID: Image of cash on a wooden desk appears with green and white text “Can I work while getting SSI?” appears.

MELINNI (in front of foggy tree scene background): Social Security Administration (white text spelling out SSA appears) encourages people who receive SSI to go to work. By going to work, SSI may reduce a little. However, you will have more money altogether if you go to work.

ID: Image of two asian senior citizens seated in an embrace in a meadow appears with text “Not only that” in green and white text.

MELINNI: When you work while on SSI, you build your work credit. With the accumulation of work credit, it will help you to get your Social Security retirement in the future, and also, SSDI. That’s why it’s generally better to go to work.

ID: Image of an illustration of different people climbing a “ladder” of a red line. They are helping each other climb up. Text in green and white appears showing “So why do some people still get SSI and not work?”

MELINNI: Some people truly depend their lives on SSI. Some people really want to work, but many attempt to look for work and still struggle to find a job. It may be the lack of job skills. It may be discrimination, along with many other reasons.

ID: Text in green and white appears over Melinni :“Mel’s SSI Pro-Tip” with an arrow pointing to Melinni as she begins to sign.

MELINNI: Many may not realize that if you’re a student under the age of 22 going to school, you can go to work and keep your SSI. Very cool! At the same time, you build your work credit.

ID:Image of hands blurred with an overlay of text in white and green “Let’s stop the stigma!” appears.

MELINNI: We don’t know what a person’s full story is. We don’t know why they receive SSI. Instead, we should try to fight discrimination, decrease discrimination, and improve discrimination laws. It may be that we should encourage companies to offer better wages, advocate for more trainings, improve our education, and the list goes on to push for change in our system to help all flourish. While those who receive SSI, we should not oppress. We should encourage… encourage all to stay optimistic and thrive.

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[Episode 1 | Season 3]

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