Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cutting Funding for SSDI and SSI

SSDI
What is Right should transcend any and all political affiliations, where you come from should not preclude your access to opportunities afforded to others. Americans who were born with a disability or developed one due to a medical syndrome or by way of injury, should be able to rely on assistance from both Federal and state governments. Without the aid of social welfare programs, people would not be able to get by in life, with any semblance of financial security.

Following this line of thinking, as practicing attorneys, our loyalties can only reside with equality before law. Personal or political beliefs listing one direction or another, should not influence our ability to give people the best defense possible. And speaking out when people are clearly being left behind, disenfranchised or forgotten should be considered a duty.

In the field of Social Security law, undercutting funding (or attempts to) for disability benefits is something we see far too often. Keeping in mind that nearly 10 million Americans rely on such subsidies, even a slight decrease in funding allotted for SSA programs come as huge personal costs to all those concerned. So when, last week, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney presented the administration's 2018 budget and it was revealed what programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) could expect in funding in the coming years—cause for concern would be an understatement.

Serious Cuts to SSDI and SSI Funding


Director Mulvaney announced a proposed cut in funding for SSDI and SSI by $72 billion over the next ten years, CBS News reports. It gets worse, the promised slice in funding is part of a $1.74 trillion cut in social welfare funding by the current administration. If proposals come to fruition it could mean a significant number of beneficiaries being expelled from SSA programs they rely on to get by monthly.

"Where are the morals of the people going after people dealing with Stage 4 cancer?" said Heather Block, a 54-year-old former international aid worker from Lewes, Delaware who has been on disability for five years after her cancer spread to her liver and lungs. "The people I know, like me, with advanced cancer — we've wanted to be in the workplace, but we don't have that ability now, so this is our income." 

The Arc, a non-profit advocacy group for people living with disabilities estimates that about 946,000 SSDI people could be booted from SSDI, or barred from eligibility, according to the article. The organization estimates that 2.1 million people could lose out on SSI.

"All evidence is that the agency [SSA] is making every effort to make accurate decisions and to make sure people get the right benefits at the right time," said TJ Sutcliffe, the Arc’s director of income and housing policy. He added, "Cutting people's basic living standards and ability to get by after experiencing the onset of a disability is not a way to help to get people to work."

Concerns Over SSDI Fraud


Even though Carolyn Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration in 2014, testified that that disability fraud was below 1 percent, there is an unfounded belief in the current administration that fraud is a serious problem, the article reports. And that pushing individuals back into the labor force could save the government billions of dollars. Additionally, to disability insurance lawyers and experts, the presentation given by Director Mulvaney revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of SSDI.

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

At Driscoll Law Corporation, we are hopeful that the administration will rethink the proposed cuts in funding to programs that help people who are, arguably, the most in need of assistance. We will continue to follow any updates about this subject. If you are need help with the process of applying and qualifying for disability benefits, please contact us today.

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