"EMISCOT COUNTY, Mo. — The food was nearly gone and the bills were going unpaid, but they still had their pills, and that was what they thought of as the sky brightened and they awoke, one by one. First came Kathy Strait, 55, who withdrew six pills from a miniature backpack and swallowed them. Then emerged her daughter, Franny Tidwell, 32, who rummaged through 29 bottles of medication atop the refrigerator and brought down her own: oxcarbazepine for bipolar disorder, fluoxetine for depression, an opiate for pain. She next reached for two green bottles of Tenex, a medication for hyperactivity, filled two glasses with water and said, “Come here, boys.”
Disabled America: Between 1996 and 2015, the number of working-age adults receiving federal disability payments increased dramatically across the country — but nowhere more so than in rural America. In this series, The Washington Post explores how disability is shaping the culture, economy and politics of these small communities.
The boys were identical twins William and Dale, 10. They were the fourth generation in this family to receive federal disability checks, and the first to be declared no longer disabled and have them taken away. In days that had grown increasingly tense, as debts mounted and desperation grew to prove that the twins should be on disability, this was always the worst time, before the medication kicked in, when the mobile home was filled with the sounds of children fighting, dogs barking, adults yelling, television volume turned up."
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