This is what I love about the "experts" who want to "reform" Social Security disability. They keep promoting ideas that are politically hopeless or obviously doomed to failure. From Dylan Matthews writing in the Wonkblog at the Washington Post, with my comments in brackets:
1) ...Under [one] plan, employers would be required to pay premiums for disability insurance for their workers. Up to half the cost of those premiums could be deducted from earnings. Employees become eligible after 90 days of employment, and the earliest they can get their first check is after 180 days of employment. [Increasing taxes on employers in order to provide more disability benefits -- that's certainly going to be a hit with Republicans.] ...
2) Higher taxes for employers who produce disabled workers [That's a great way to encourage manufacturing! Maybe I should explain since the people promoting this idea know no one who works in manufacturing and have never visited a manufacturing plant. Manufacturing jobs are more physically demanding than working in an office. They're much more likely to cause injury or repetitive motion disease. For good reason, workers compensation insurance rates are much, much higher for manufacturing plants than for offices. This plan would dramatically add to that burden on manufacturers. Also, people who hold manufacturing jobs tend to be people who either dropped out of high school or barely got a high school diploma. In large part these are people who have cognitive abilities in the borderline to low average range, meaning they have little to fall back on if illness or injury strikes, making them more disability prone. If you don't fully understand the phrase "cognitive abilities in the borderline to low average range" and the connection I'm drawing here is hard for you to understand, you really ought to put in more time studying these issues before putting forward your plans to "reform" Social Security disability.]
3) Try a few approaches, expand what works: The Kennedy School’s Jeffrey Liebman and the OMB’s Jack Smalligan have proposed the creation of three demonstration projects to test possible reforms to the program. One would mimic either the [idea one or two]. Another would attempt to prevent applications for insurance through the provision of wage subsidies and vocational aid to disabled workers tempted to leave the workforce [You've got someone who is so sick that he or she is voluntarily going from a salary to no salary. Doesn't he or she already have enough incentive to continue working? Does increasing the salary help? I think it has escaped these scholar's attention that vocational aid is already available in theory but that state vocational rehabilitation agencies are willing to help very, very few applicants for Social Security disability benefits because they regard rehabilitation as an unachievable goal for the vast majority of these folks.] The third would let states use disability funds as a block grant and experiment with their own reforms. [Now, we get to what they really want. Ending Social Security disability benefits. Politically, it's a nonstarter.]
Liebman and Smalligan also want to grant the Social Security commissioner more flexibility in administering the program, with the hope that this could reduce costs and target the program more effectively. [What you got in mind? It's not like Social Security Commissioners have been saying that they thought they could cut program costs if they had more flexibility. They're just been asking for more money so they can effectively run the program as it currently exists.]
4) Ease the phase-out: Another possible reform is a $2-for-$1 scheme, in which benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 increase in a beneficiary’s earnings. [Great idea. Seriously, the current rules are ridiculously complicated. Social Security thinks this is such a great idea that they've embarked on a ten year trial of phase out. Wait, a ten year trial? Why so long? Maybe because they're not really expecting any favorable results from the trial. Social Security work incentives have been endlessly added to and tweaked with no beneficial effect. The problem is that program rules are so tight that disability benefits recipients are too sick to work ever again. Period.] ...
5) Longer waiting period: The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] has considered a variety of cost-saving measures for the plan, ranging from adopting chained CPI to making people 62 or older ineligible. But probably the most likely to change enrollment is a plan to increase the waiting period before benefits from five months to 12 months. That would likely deter people tempted to game the system by increasing the cost of that, but it would also leave genuinely disabled people out to dry to some extent. It would also reduce the cost of the program by 6 percent in 2022. [This idea doesn't save much money. It just bankrupts more people. Why should a person with terminal cancer have a 12 month waiting period? Until you can answer that one, you had better keep this idea toward the bottom of your list. And tell me more about this "gaming" of the system inherent in a five month waiting period. I'm a lawyer who represents these folks. I'd be interested in knowing how I could advise my clients to play this "game.]