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Trump Proposes Budget Cuts For Disability Benefits

Trump’s 2018 Budget has been released and it includes significant cuts to Social Security Disability benefits.  According to the National Organization for Social Security Claimant’s Representatives, the cuts amount to $72 billion over the next ten years. The proposed cuts would mean that working people who have become disabled would have $72 billion less to use for basic needs like food and shelter, even though they paid for those benefits when they worked and paid taxes. The cuts include:

  • 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 disabled workers. 
  • Reinstating the reconsideration step in the disability process in ten “prototype” states. This is expected to result in more claimants being denied, dying, or becoming discouraged with the wait time and quitting the appeal process. 
  • 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, prove they looked for work or limiting the amount of time they can receive disability benefits.  These are possible changes.
  • Reducing SSDI benefits when an individual attempts to work, is laid off, and then receives unemployment benefits. This kind of change keeps those with disabilities from trying to work.
  • 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. This would interfere with families’ choices about living arrangements, add complexity to the SSI program (increasing overpayments), and increase poverty.
  • 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 – which makes a significant impact upon a disabled person’s ability to pay their monthly living expenses.
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