The Washington Examiner, a right wing publication publication owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, has a compendium of ideas for reforming Social Security disability. Here are some:
- Add temporary disability benefits
- Add partial disability benefits
- Change the definition of disability to "a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has resulted in a substantial impediment to employment and is expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last for continuous periods of at least 12 months."
- Early intervention to help disabled people to work such as providing career coaches.
Those proposing these ideas do so because they actually believe that in the long run they would cut costs. They're dead wrong.
I'd love to see the first three ideas implemented but they're complete non-starters. Temporary disability benefits would be extremely expensive to implement. Partial disability benefits would multiply costs by, who knows, three or four or five times. Changing the definition of disability to merely require a "substantial impediment to employment" would have a similar effect. Early intervention would be extremely difficult to implement and would be ineffective. People can't wrap their minds around the fact that most people who meet Social Security's current definition of disability either suffer from chronic, progressive conditions or suffer from overwhelming mental illness. Early intervention doesn't help them.
The underlying problem is that no one on the right has a good understanding of Social Security disability. They have attitudes about Social Security disability. Boy, do they have attitudes! But when it comes to actual knowledge, they just don't know their stuff, which is how they come up with this blue sky stuff.