Advocates who are concerned about the disabled were relived when news broke that President Barack Obama’s 2015 proposed budget no longer included a provision for chained CPI for Social Security disability benefits.
Chained CPI would have altered the way that the cost-of-living adjustments were made to determine how much someone received in monthly disability income. It would have amounted to a de facto cut in benefits at a time when more disabled people than ever are relying on Social Security Disability benefits already too meager to provide for all the necessities of life.
Unfortunately, while Chained CPI did not make it into the budget proposal. The LA Times reports that there are still attacks on the disabled built into the budget. The budget is unlikely to become law because of partisan gridlock, but with both Republicans and many Democrats clearly open to looking for ways to cut back on SSD benefits, it will be especially important for disability advocates (and the disabled) to be watchful of any future proposals that suggest changes to benefits programs.
Qualifying for SSD benefits is a challenge, with an approval rate of less than 50 percent for applicants seeking disability income. A Boston disability lawyer can help applicants to have the best chance of successfully applying for benefits and can represent those who are denied throughout the appeals process.
While having a lawyer makes it more likely that you will be able to get the disability income you need, the maximum monthly benefit for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is set at just $721 in 2014 (although SSDI recipients may receive more depending upon their wage history). These benefits are not high enough that they can afford to withstand any cuts.
President’s Budget Limits the Rights of the Disabled
The “attack” on disability benefits buried in the President’s budget is a restriction that prohibits people from collecting both unemployment benefits and disability benefits at the same time. The savings from making this change would come to more than $3.2 billion over the course of 10 years. However, while this sounds like a lot, it is actually less than 7,000ths of a percent of the projected federal spending over the same period of time. For such a small amount of savings, it is not worth reducing the money that the disabled need to survive.
The proposal is so problematic for several reasons beyond the fact that it creates an unfair restriction on people who pay for both the Social Security Disability benefits system and unemployment insurance with payroll deductions and taxes. It also creates a “terrible precedent of raiding Social Security to pay for other social programs,” it uniquely burdens workers who are disabled, and it does nothing of substance to attack the looming funding crisis that exists in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
Much more needs to be done for the disabled and real solutions are necessary in order to ensure that funds are available to those who need them most.
If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
More Blog Entries:
Jobless Don’t Seek SSDI Benefits as Default, Dec. 15, 2014, Boston SSDI Attorney Blog