Oct 10, 2014

Advisory Council For "McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Initiative"

     I've already written about my concern that the "McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Initiative" which is supposedly going to come up with bipartisan solutions for the fact that the Social Security Disability Trust Fund will probably run out of money in the not too distant future, is sponsored by The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), which has a long association with Pete Peterson's crusade against Social Security.
     I've now seen a list of individuals who have agreed to be part of the Advisory Council for this project. Here's the list:
  •  Michael Astrue
  •  Lawrence Atkins
  •  Andrew G. Biggs
  •  Barbara Butz
  •  Mary C. Daly
  •  Marty Ford
  •  Steve Goss
  •  Ron Haskins
  •  Andrew Houtenville
  •  Andrew Imparato
  •  Neil Jacobson
  •  Stanford Ross
  •  C. Eugene Steuerle
  •  William Taylor
  •  Rebecca Vallas
      You can read the biographical blurbs on the Advisory Council members. No person, including members of this group, can be accurately described in the shorthand way that I'm about to, so I won't describe them individually, but I still think it's useful to break these Advisory Council members into several rough groups. You could certainly argue with my groupings. Here's a rough guide to how I think these Council members break down based upon past positions held or views publicly expressed:
  • Very favorable to Social Security Disability claimants -- 3
  • Moderately favorable to Social Security Disability claimants -- 2
  • Neutral or unknown -- 4
  • Moderately hostile to Social Security Disability claimants -- 2
  • Very hostile to Social Security Disability claimants -- 3
  • Mostly interested in Social Security spending as much money as possible on rehabilitation -- 2
     In a sense this is a balanced group. Some of the members of this Advisory Council have actually met Social Security disability claimants. I wish more had. The main thing about this group is that a unanimous recommendation is pretty much out of the question. There's just too big a spread of viewpoints. Bipartisanship in Washington? Get real.
     I hope this group wastes lots of Pete Peterson's money on something that may not matter once it becomes clear that the Disability Trust Fund is going to last at least into 2017. Please, hold public hearings at expensive hotels all over the country. Travel to other countries to see what's happening abroad. Demand huge per diems. Commission lots of expensive studies. Pete Peterson can afford it.
     For those Advisory Council members who care about such things, remember that when I and others talk about Social Security disability claimants who have been denied becoming homeless or committing suicide, we've not making it up. It happens all the time. These are not abstract issues. Real people's lives are affected in horrific ways when Social Security disability claims are denied.
     From where I stand, it would be far better to let the Disability Trust Fund run out of money and have Social Security disability benefits cut by a certain percentage than to agree to something that reduces the number of people granted Social Security disability benefits. Lowered benefits would hurt but SSI puts a floor under the income of disability recipients. Medicare and/or Medicaid wouldn't be cut. Reduced benefits wouldn't last. A change in the definition of disability would be permanent


Anonymous said...

I can relate, Chuck. Ask anyone who has been in this profession awhile and you will hear a variation on this story. A severely disabled person who cannot work applies for SSD and SSI. They get turned down several times. They go broke, lose everything, become homeless, stop caring. They get more ill and decide they can't take it anymore and they take their own life.

In a bit more than 20 years of representing claimants, I've seen it happen about 10 times. That's just me, one person, under the current system. So, when people start advocating for making the disability definition more difficult and excluding more people, it makes me wonder how many more would die like that. I am encouraged that there at least some people in the group who know the truth of that.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, 2:59! Recently, I've been lucky--I've had only 2 clients die during the last year while waiting for hearings. In 2010, during the 3-year wait it was taking from application to hearing date at the local ODAR, I lost 5% of my clientele to death before their hearings were held. Since 2009, about 50% of my clients have lost their homes to foreclosure before they received relief by getting benefits. Of course, by then, it was too late for them to redeem their homes. I've never checked the percentage of clients who've had vehicles repossessed while seeking relief.