CHN: Bill Introduced to Stop Cuts to Disability Insurance Beneficiaries
A bill introduced last week by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) would prevent millions of Americans with disabilities from seeing their benefits cut. The Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund (SSDI), a part of Social Security that provides crucial support to people with disabilities and serious medical conditions, needs to be replenished to be able to continue paying benefits at the current level. Without action, nearly 9 million workers with disabilities and nearly 2 million children of disabled workers will see their benefits cut by 20 percent at the end of 2016. On the first day of the new Congress in January, the House passed a rule effectively blocking the reallocation of funds between Social Security’s main retirement trust fund and the disability trust fund, despite the fact that this reallocation has happened – in both directions – 11 times in the past, under both Republican and Democratic control. According to a press release from Sen. Wyden and Rep. Levin, the Social Security Earned Benefits Payment Act would “temporarily adjust the distribution of incoming payroll taxes between the Social Security trust funds to ensure both funds can pay full benefits through 2034.”
SSDI benefits are modest, averaging just $1,140 per month, but according to the Center for American Progress, they are the primary or sole source of income for more than 80 percent of beneficiaries. Additional proposals in both the House and Senate would cut or eliminate critical benefits for people who receive both SSDI and unemployment insurance, despite the fact that those who receive both have lost a job through no fault of their own. While only a small percentage of Americans receive both SSDI and unemployment insurance at the same time and the benefits are modest, these benefits are essential to helping disabled workers and their families in the event of a job loss, and give workers confidence to enter the labor force, knowing they will not lose all benefits if they are laid off.