While out of the country, President Trump released his proposed budget for the next fiscal year. In response, the Athenian lawmaker Draco asked if we would finally stop using his name as an adjective. Indeed, Trumpian could replaced Draconian if this budget is any indicator.
While it is unlikely to pass Congress, Trump's proposed budget would have profoundly negative impacts upon Social Security disability.
Consider some of his proposed changes:
- Reducing SSDI retroactive payments to six months rather than 12 months before the protected filing date. This will take an estimated $9.9 billion over the next ten years from people with disabilities.
- Reinstating reconsideration in ten “prototype” states This is expected to result in more claimants being denied and some dying or becoming discouraged without appealing.
- Creating an “expert panel” to recommend program changes to SSI and SSDI, with the goal of a 5% reduction in benefits by 2027.
- The budget proposal suggests requiring claimants to receive specific medical treatments or prove they looked for work, or limiting the amount of time beneficiaries can receive benefits, among the possible changes.
- Reducing SSDI benefits when an individual attempts to work, is laid off, and then receives unemployment benefits.
- Changing workers' compensation laws to save the DI trust funds money at the expense of state workers' compensation programs.
- Establishing a one-year probationary period for new ALJs, which could interfere with their decisional independence.
- Limiting SSI payments for individuals living with other SSI recipients.
- Excluding Social Security overpayments from discharge in bankruptcy proceedings, and increasing the minimum withholding to repay overpayments from $10 a month to 10% of benefits.
Every Aspect of Disability Under Attack
This budget amounts to a surgical strike upon Social Security disability. Whoever crafted these proposals studied Social Security
disability in detail to figure out how to do the maximum amount of harm. If passed, these changes would attack every aspect of Social Security disability. They would make it harder for judges to independently decide cases, for claimants to apply and get approved, for beneficiaries to try to get back to work. The proposals would even interfere with the rights of SSI recipients to live with whom they want to live.
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Matthew 25:40
Such proposed changes are not, in truth, necessary modifications of a successful program. Rather, this budget proposal does nothing less than attempt to so weaken Social Security disability as to render it useless. When you combine this with other proposed changes, such as gutting Medicaid, it seems apparent that Trump has all but declared war on our most vulnerable fellow citizens.
First They Came For The Disabled. . .
If you disagree that the Federal government should set out to make the lives of the poorest and sickest even worse, call your member of Congress today. If you do nothing, you may discover that Social Security disability benefits are no longer there if you ever needed them.