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In an August 11 newspaper article
about an Administrative Law Judge who allows 80% of the disability claims he hears (which isn't particularly high), a spokeswoman for the Republican members of the House Social Security Subcommittee said that legislation to "protect the system" may emerge this Fall.
An August 17 press release
issued by the Republicans on the House Social Security Subcommittee said that "the longer we wait, the harder it will be to protect [Social Security disability] benefits ..."
From a press release
issued by the Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee and its Social Security Subcommittee on August 25, 2012:
Given the extraordinary changes in the workplace, and new thinking in treatment and rehabilitation that have developed over the last 56 years, this Committee will continue to work with all our colleagues so we can find solutions to strengthen the program for Americans with disabilities.
I don't know what they have in mind but the "extraordinary changes in the workplace, and new thinking in treatment and rehabilitation that have developed over the last 56 years" language sounds a lot like an attempt to justify making it harder to get on disability benefits, particularly by using the Americans with Disabilities Act as a reason. The phrase about working "with all our colleagues" sounds a bit better. I hope they include Democrats among their colleagues but I don't think that can be assumed.
A freestanding bill to make it harder to draw Social Security disability benefits cannot possible pass the Senate much less get signed by the President before the end of this Congress. However, there may be a budget deal after the election but before the end of this Congress. Republicans may be preparing to add changes to Social Security disability benefits to the list of items they want in this budget deal. Regardless of what happens with that, these are signals that House Ways and Means Republicans want to do something about Social Security disability benefits should Mitt Romney be elected President in November and bring with him a Republican majority in the Senate. Even if President Obama is re-elected, as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives, they can use the impending shortfall in the Disability Insurance Trust Fund as leverage to pass legislation to make it harder get on Social Security disability benefits and to stay on those benefits.
The simple solution for the Disability Insurance Trust Fund problem, indeed the only solution that doesn't involve immediate, draconian cuts in benefits, is to allow interfund borrowing. The interfund borrowing would be temporary.
Labels: Disability Trust Fund, Financing Social Security, Social Security Subcommittee, Trust Funds