Categorized | Features, Pushback

White House Seeks To Disable Social Security Disability Programs

Disability

The Trump administration is proposing regulatory changes to Social Security that could cut off disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, including children and the elderly.

By Al Norman

In November, 2015, the media reported that Donald J. Trump “made fun” of a disabled reporter who suffered from arthrogryposis, a disease which can cause muscles to atrophy. Some in the media were appalled that Trump would physically mock a disabled person. But what the pPresident is doing now to the disabled goes far beyond cruel mocking

The Trump administration is proposing regulatory changes to Social Security that could cut off disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, including children and the elderly. The White House wants to change “continuing disability reviews” which are used by Social Security Administration to determine whether a person continues to qualify for benefits. Trump’s plan would force millions of Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries to re-prove their eligibility for benefits as often as every six months — far more frequently than is currently the case.

These programs are for people who are too physically and/or mentally impaired to work. There are roughly 8.5 million Americans on SSDI, and 8 million on SSI. A person on SSDI can receive between $800 and $1800 a month, while SSI benefits can run up to $770 a month. SSDI is for people who have worked at least 10 years, SSI is for low-income recipients who have seldom, if ever, been employed. As with many government assistance programs, the hardest part is getting through the application process — and staying on the program once you are enrolled.

social, DisabilityPeople who are already receiving disability benefits are required to have a “continuing disability review” (CDR), to demonstrate that they are still deserving of compensation for an injury, illness, or other incapacitating problem. Under federal law, the Social Security Administration is required to conduct a medical CDR at least once every three years, unless it determines you have a medical condition that SSA expects will improve sooner.

Disability rights advocates say the White House has no evidence that such beneficiaries are “likely” to improve, because there is no medical or scientific basis to say they’ll get better.

If you have a medical condition that is not expected to improve, your case could be reviewed once every seven years. A person who has a grave illness like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), for example, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, is categorized as “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” and is subject to review every five to seven years.

A low-birth-weight baby is categorized as  a second category, “Medical Improvement Expected,” and is reviewed every six to 18 months, because some change is expected anticipated. There is also a third category called “Medical Improvement Possible.”

The Trump administration is proposing to add a new, fourth category: “Medical Improvement Likely,” which would affect as many as 4.4 million people now receiving disability benefits. They would be required to undergo disability reviews every two years. The government would have to conduct an extra 2.6 million reviews in the first 10-year period if this proposal is adopted.

There is also a fifth category of people who have one of a list of specified medical impairments, or a combination of disabilities that make working difficult or impossible. According to federal law, these people have a right to SSI or SSDI benefits.  They are people 50 to 65 years of age, in poor health, who lack much education, and have few job skills. They may have physical pain, or mental health issues like depression or schizophrenia. Trump wants to include these category five people in the “Medical Improvement Likely” category — which is just a form of bureaucratic harassment.

Disability rights advocates say the White House has no evidence that such beneficiaries are “likely” to improve — because there is no medical or scientific basis to say they’ll get better. “They’re out to shrink the rolls,” one elderly rights lawyer told the media. Officials at Trump’s Social Security Administration have proposed eliminating older age, low education, and unskilled work experience in determining eligibility for SSI and SSDI. Requiring such people to continually justify their disability benefits will just make it harder and more exasperating to maintain their benefits.

You only have until the end of January to comment on these punitive regulations. Click on this link and tell the Trump Administration to “stop disabling the Disability Benefits program under Social Security.”

Al Norman was the head of a home care advocacy network for elderly home care in Massachusetts for 33 years. He can be reached at: alnormaneldercare@gmail.com.

 

 

One Response to “White House Seeks To Disable Social Security Disability Programs”

  1. Tyrone says:

    Leave Social Security & Disability and Obama Care alone. Trump and the Republican party represents the wealthy and those that oppose social and economic justice.

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