Thousands Could Lose Social Security Disability Benefits Under New Trump Rule
A new rule proposal from the Trump administration would make it harder for Americans receiving Social Security Disability Insurance to stay qualified for their benefits, according to HuffPost.
Republicans have vilified so-called “takers” for decades, insisting that fraud is rampant within America’s social safety net programs, and President Donald Trump has found another piece of red meat to toss the base by adding extra hoops for the disabled to jump through if they want to keep their benefits.
Under the proposed change, the government would increase scrutiny of those receiving benefits to determine if they still qualify for the program, adding an additional category of likelihood of improvement to the two existing categories.
People who fall into the expected medical improvement category must be evaluated every 18 months to continue receiving benefits, while those in the possible improvement category must undergo evaluation every three years.
The new category — medical improvement likely — would require evaluations every two years.
The administration says it anticipates saving $2 billion over a decade once the rule is implemented, but it also acknowledges that the added reviews would cost about $1.8 billion — practically wiping out the savings.
The real cost, however, will be borne by those who are removed from the program, which estimates place in the tens of thousands of disabled people.
HuffPost reported that the new rule is meant to target “older disabled workers who didn’t win benefits strictly because of their disabilities, but also because they were lower-skilled and unlikely to be able to succeed in some new occupation” — those who fall into the “medical-vocational grid.”
The Social Security Administration uses the grid to “award benefits to people whose impairments are less severe but who nonetheless have virtually no place in the labor market.”
In response to the rule proposal, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) penned a formal comment letter citing research that shows most people who lose their benefits earn little money in the following five years due to their disabilities.
The administration itself admitted that any it cannot estimate employment benefits that might arise from the rule change, though it insists such benefits will exist: “We believe that there may be positive employment effects as a result of these proposed rules, although we cannot currently quantify them,” the Social Security Administration said in its notice of rule-making.
“The proposed rule relies on mere guesses or wishes to justify a change that evidence shows to be harmful,” NOSSCR director Barbara Silverstone wrote in the letter. “This is not just arbitrary and capricious, but callous and malicious.”