Some of our recent posts have focused on the debate over sustainable funding for the Social Security Disability Insurance program. According to estimates, the SSDI trust fund will run dry sometime in 2016. If this is allowed to happen, it could mean a significant cut in monthly benefits for SSDI recipients, many of whom are already financially limited.
As we draw closer to mid-term elections in November, Democratic legislators are speaking out in support of safeguarding and fixing Social Security, especially Social Security Disability. This is a much-needed defense against those who continually call for Social Security to be cut, privatized or both.
One of those legislators is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who recently gave a speech at the Center for American Progress. Brown argues that conservatives “don’t want to save Social Security. They want to end Social Security. It means we need to do more than defend the program and play defense. We need to play offense and expand the program.”
He and others start by countering two false narratives. The first of these is the idea that
SSDI is plagued by fraud and abuse. This is often alleged, but studies show that it just isn’t true. SSDI fraud and abuse are rare.
The other false narrative is the idea that “double dippers” are taking unfair advantage of the system by receiving both SSDI and unemployment benefits, and that these individuals are a financial burden on limited funds. An estimate by the Government Accountability Offices shows that in 2010, only about 117,000 Americans collected both SSDI and unemployment benefits. Dual beneficiaries account for less than 1 percent of enrollees in each program.
Moreover, “double dipping” is not illegal, advocates say. Those receiving disability benefits are also allowed to work in some low-wage jobs. If they lose those jobs, they may be entitled to receive unemployment benefits until they find other work.
Politicians have been discussing SSDI extensively in recent weeks and months. But we now need to focus on having the right discussions about SSDI. Those discussions should focus on finding ways to make Social Security Disability Insurance sustainable and available to those who need it.
Source: Cleveland.com, “It’s time to expand Social Security, not cut it, Sen. Sherrod Brown says,” Stephen Koff, July 8, 2014