Congress Talks SSDI Reform…Again

Scale of justice and handcuffs in a court house table

SSDI benefits would continue through 2016. It also halted a planned 20% benefits cut affecting Social Security claims Chicago and across the country. The last-minute save brought renewed demands for SSDI reforms.

New SSDI Reforms are Already on the Books

Congress talks a lot about SSDI reform. It’s no surprise that they used December’s must-pass budget bill as an opportunity to add these and other changes to the program.

  • Establish disability investigation units in cooperation with local law enforcement
  • Prohibit medical evidence from “…any individual or entity who has been convicted of a felony…” under SSA codes and persons banned from participation in a federal health program
  • Add new and stronger criminal penalties for fraud and conspiracy

While these reforms address what politicians consider a problem with fraud, they fail to present concrete evidence of fraud in social security claims Chicago or elsewhere.

Congress Wants More Reforms

Senators James Lankford and Joe Manchin believe the Social Security Disability Insurance reforms included in the budget bill are not enough. Their joint January 28 letter to the Senate Finance Committee addressed “…the clearly identified problems within the Social Security Disability Insurance program….” The Senators’ letter went on to list several recommendations:

  • Change application and decision process
  • Set fair and timely hearings
  • Correct federal program overlaps
  • Address fraud and overpayments
  • Provide support for returning disabled workers back to the workforce

Congressman Sam Johnson led the battle in Congress to eliminate the option of transferring capital from one Social Security trust fund to the other. He stated the rule change would “…encourage much-needed reform.” The transfer ban will remain unless a proposed funding shift includes tax increases or benefits cuts to the overall Social Security System.

SSDI Helps Families

Politicians talk a lot about SSDI reform, but they’ve kept the program going for over 50 years. SSDI benefits a lot of families. Recent Congressional Social Security statistics show that in Illinois alone 289,730 disabled workers were receiving SSDI benefits averaging $1,165. per month. The budget for Social security claims Chicago, Illinois, and across the country supports disabled baby boomers. Beneficiaries include rising numbers of women due to a decades-long increase in women entering the workforce.

SSDI touches many American’s lives. Politicians aren’t likely to let it fail completely, however, the reforms they present may change the program in unanticipated ways.