Michael Hiltzik, a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times, wrote an interesting piece on January 10 titled “An awful idea: Hammer the disabled to pay for unemployment benefits” that argued against proposed legislation that would help extend unemployment benefits by cutting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for individuals who may receive the two benefits concurrently.
In the piece, Hiltzik discusses Senate legislation that has been sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and supported by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), which proposes a reduction in SSDI that would save the government about $100 million per year.
“That’s less than three thousandths of a percent of the annual federal budget,” Hiltzik wrote. “Sure, fiscal responsibility has to start somewhere, but surely there are deeper pockets to mine than those of disabled people struggling to make ends meet.”
“[SSDI recipients] are people who have passed through the very stringent gantlet necessary to qualify for disability benefits, and they’ve also worked long enough to become eligible for unemployment. There’s no justification in law or logic for offsetting one benefit by the other,” Hiltzik wrote.
The piece also linked to a letter written to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), condemning the proposed cuts. The letter can be found by clicking here.
The letter from the CCD says that the proposed legislation would worsen “the economic security of workers with disabilities and their families at a time when the economy continues to struggle.”
The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) said that there are currently about 117,000 Americans who receive both forms of benefits. NOSSCR Deputy Director of Government Affairs Rebecca Vallas told Hiltzik that advocates are nervous that the proposal will encourage lawmakers to view Social Security benefits as a “piggy bank”. It should also be noted that the proposal was in President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget, which has not been passed.
“The idea that disabled persons are “double-dipping” by collecting wages or other compensation while also getting a disability check is enshrined in conservative attacks on disability. But it’s untrue,” Hiltzik wrote. “The Social Security disability program is designed as a bridge to full employment. Its benefits aren’t intended as a substitute for wages, but a supplement.”
It should be noted that issues can arise when someone collects SSDI and unemployment benefits at the same time. Some states require repayment for unemployment compensation if a person received any form of income (including SSDI) while receiving unemployment. This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Social Security disability attorney about your situation.
We will continue to follow this story as more information becomes available. If you have questions about qualifying for SSDI, we suggest you visit our Social Security FAQ page. If you have questions about an application for disability benefits, do not hesitate to contact our Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers for a free consultation. You may also reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers
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