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Sep 14, 2012

Rehab Pushed At Congressional Hearing

     Here are some excerpts from two of the written statements for today's hearing before the House Social Security Subcommittee:
In sum, SSDI growth has primarily been driven by factors other than an aging workforce, health declines, and the increasing SSDI coverage of women. Loosening of program rules in the 1980s has made it more difficult for gatekeepers to judge eligibility and increased the likelihood that applicants facing rising replacement rates or declining economic opportunities will apply for SSDI benefits. A growing number of individuals being allowed onto the rolls could work in some capacity and would do so if they were not judged eligible for benefits.
     Burkhauser's evidence to support the proposition that age is the cause of increasing claims for disabiliity benefits is the fact that increasing age didn't cause an increase in the incidence of disability in the time period 1983-2003. Of course, that was before the baby boom generation started hitting their 50s, making it irrelevant in my opinion.
     Burkhauser's solution is to adopt the emulate Holland which "required all Dutch firms to fund the first two years of disability benefits to their workers and to pay an experience-rated disability tax based on the number of workers they subsequently moved onto the long-term Dutch disability insurance program."
Although giving broad consideration of assistive devices and workplace accommodations may be difficult to incorporate into the current disability criteria and process, SSA may be missing opportunities to move further in this direction. Officials we spoke with from an organization of vocational examiners expressed frustration with having seen young individuals who could work with minor accommodations being provided disability benefits likely throughout their working life, rather than receiving support to pursue work.

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