I did preliminary research and couldn't find much. The most common epithet given to Ms. Pilgrim Hunter was "local activist," which I don't think pays the bills. A little more digging revealed an employment history of retail, cosmetics, and a welfare to work counselor. No current paying job could be found. Her most recent employment was as a regional sales manager for Avon almost a decade ago. Ms. Pilgrim-Hunter had been a welfare to work counselor for one year in 1995.
Finally I contacted the campaign and had it confirmed that indeed Ms. Pilgrim Hunter is receiving disability checks and is indeed deemed unable to work according to Social Security standards. She has been unable to work since an Avon accident in 2000 that affected her back and rendered Ms. Pilgrim-Hunter incapable of carrying and loading boxes. Ms. Pilgrim-Hunter has received disability payments since 2006 and currently still receives them while on the campaign trail. A campaign official wrote in an email, "Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter currently collects disability checks through Social Security. Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter proudly paid into the Social Security system for 22 years, and now participates in it as a beneficiary."
I think it is rather strange that a woman who can be a co-op board president, sit on the board of NWBCCC, be the most vocal member of KARA, and embark upon a vigorous campaign for the 33rd district is physically unable to find and maintain gainful employment. Also, I kind of feel that running a political campaign makes it pretty evident that a candidate is capable of working. This is the height of contradiction; on the one hand Ms. Pilgrim-Hunter is attempting to convince the voters of the 33rd district that she is able and capable of working hard for them in the state senate, but on the other hand, she has convinced the federal government that she is incapable of working (and she continually confirms this incapacity to work when she cashes her disability check every month).
It must be a little easier to be so involved in the business of KARA and NWBCCC when you don't have to deal with that little thing called gainful employment. I'd like to volunteer a lot more myself, but alas, I have a job. I do not begrudge those on disability (it is a very necessary safety net for those who legitimately are physically or mentally unable to work); however, I think if you can physically do lots of things that seem to mimic real work without the paycheck, you can physically maintain regular employment.
When asked if Ms. Pilgrim Hunter would forfeit her checks if she were elected, a campaign official in the same email stated, "The disability determination is not necessarily a permanent one. The system foresees re-evaluations to determine if a person's condition has improved to the point of no longer being qualified for benefits. Desiree has and will continue to comply with these rules."
The ole BD thinks that now would be the perfect time for one of these "re-evaluations."