Rep. Reed vs Disabled Workers-Looking at the Facts & the Rhetoric

Rep. Tom Reed has proposed an amendment to the House Rules that will limit the way Congress funds the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSDI is expected to have 81% of the funds it needs to fulfill their legal responsibility to support disabled workers. Rep. Reed is worried that the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) will plan to logo-ssatransfer funds from the Retirement portion of Social Security to the Disability portion. He finds that unacceptable. He is concerned about the “Retired taxpayers who have paid into the system for years” not having enough money to cover their benefits. The amendment he sponsored will not allow the reallocation of money between the two Trust Funds. The amendment only allows raising taxes or lowering benefits. Fat chance that this congress will raise taxes on anything, let alone a Safety Net program, and Reed knows that. Therefore his amendment will cut Social Security benefits. His amendment weakens our Social Security Program.

facts2Let’s look at the facts. Social Security is funded by worker payroll deductions, not by taxes. Presently 5.3% of your hard earned salary goes for “Old Age Survivors Insurance” (Retirees) and 0.9% for Disability Insurance for a total of 6.2%  (The employer also responsible for 6.2% of a worker’s salary to Social Security). Disability has been part of Social Security since 1955. They don’t transfer funds from one account to the other; they adjust the new revenue (payroll deductions) to make sure both accounts are solvent. It is NOT the retirees vs the disabled. That is called “reallocation of funds”, it is not uncommon; it has been done 11 times since 1968, that’s about once every four years.  In 1979, 1980, 1983, 1984  and 1997 the Disability Insurance Fund’s rate was lowered and the Retirement Insurance Fund’s rate was increased. Reed’s proposal,  by not allowing the reallocation, will insure the SSDI will not have enough funds to fully support the disabled workers.

Rep. Reed feels that too many people are receiving disability payments. He claims  there is fraud and abuse in the system.  (That’s a topic for another time). The Corning Leader reported   that he would like to see changes to how disabilities are defined; that “people receiving money from the program should be those with genuine ‘catastrophic’ disabilities, those who ‘can’t find a job anywhere in America because of that disability.’ ”

Reed’s statement is scary. It shows how naive and unrealistic he is about a devastating situation in a person’s life. Does he really think if a wheel-chair bound fifty-five year old diabetic turned down a minimum wage job stuffing envelopes in Alaska, that person should not qualify for disability insurance? A trained medical professional, not a politician,  should  decide what constitutes a disability.

Social Security’s definition of Disability is: “For adults applying for disability, being disabled means that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment.  The disability must have lasted or be expected to last  for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”

Social Security’s definition acknowledges that some disabilities may improve— seizures may occur less frequently and/or be less severe. Medical treatment, exercise, surgeries may strengthen the body and lessen the affect of the disability. SSA regularly reviews cases and can change a previously disabled worker’s status.

Social-Security-CardA person needs to earn enough work credits to qualify for Social Security, be it Social Security Retirement or Social Security Disability. Presently you can collect a reduced Social Security retirement amount at 62, or a full amount at 65 (unless you are born in 1960 or later, then full retirement is 67).

The typical disability application takes between 90 and 120 days to process. The applicants need to provide the Social Security with timely, accurate, and through medical evidence as well as information about their working career. After Social Security agents receive and analyze the information they schedule at least two different appointment with SSA’s physicians. This information is analyzed, and a Claim Agent either approves or deny the application. Social Security denies approximately two-thirds of the applications each year.

Many people enter the work force around age 22.  Suppose one works for 30 years, and then is a victim of an accident, or contacts a debilitating disease. He can not work. He disability-basicshas paid 6.2% of his salary to Social Security. If there is not SSDI he would not be able to receive benefits until age 62. How does he survive? He can’t go on unemployment—-those on unemployment need to be looking for a job weekly. Is this what Rep. Reed wants for his constituents?

Rep. Reed has received media recognition because the House Republicans passed his rule amendment—LA Times, Dailykos, US News & World Report, ABC News, Politicofact, Talking Points Memo and others have mentioned him and his Social Security amendment. He was quoted in a NPR report. Martha Robertson, who ran against Rep. Reed was on the Thom Hartman radio program on Thursday, January 15, speaking against the House Rule amendment.

Social Security is a complication issue. If the GOP lead Congress feels it has to change Social Security, there are many other approaches  than reduce funding for Disability Insurance.  Those will be explored in an upcoming article.

Besides the links above, I used information from “Nolo’s Guide to Social Security Disability”, by David A. Morton III, NOLO Publishing Co, Berkeley, California. 2014.


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
This entry was posted in Congress, Data, Economics, Health Care, Media, Political, Reed's Views, Seniors and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Rep. Reed vs Disabled Workers-Looking at the Facts & the Rhetoric

  1. Deb Meeker says:

    Clearly, Reed’s proposal is shortsighted and cruel. Thank you for writing this, I look forward to more on this topic.


  2. whungerford says:

    From the “Corning Leader” article cited:

    Reed said it would take a 20 percent cut in payouts under the program to make the (SSDI) fund sustainable. He said he’d like to see reforms that focus on eliminating fraud and abuse from the program, and changes to how disabilities are defined, rather than a “bailout” drawing on the retirement fund. Reed said people receiving money from the program should be those with genuine “catastrophic” disabilities, those who “can’t find a job anywhere in America because of that disability.”

    Reed seldom cites numbers. If it were easy to eliminate all fraud and abuse, that would have long ago been done. Would changing the definition of disability from “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity” to “‘can’t find a job anywhere in America” reduce SSDI expense by 20 percent? Reed doesn’t say.


  3. Anne says:

    You know what’s the real waste, fraud, and abuse? That Tom Reed draws his salary at all.


  4. Anne says:

    But if you’ll indulge me, here’s my story about the time I had to deal with SS disability. In January of 2001, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had insurance through his company (Compaq, at the time) and underwent a Whipple procedure, rounds of chemo and radiation, had complications from that latter, was out of work for several months on short-term disability through his company. He then went into remission nearly three years, until the cancer recurred and the tumors appeared in his spine, emerging from the inside and breaking his neck between the C6 and C7 vertebra. He lost use of both arms from this, more or less, and was effectively crippled (and terminal, although with the help of a clinical trial he did live another two years). There was no measure by which he could *not* have been said to have been disabled, but even with the severity (and terminal nature) of his illness and the physical fallout he suffered from that, it took an entire social work department at Massachusetts General Hospital to secure long-term disability for him. So anyone who tells you it’s easy to game this particular system is gaming you. And not to mix the issues here, but his monthly disability check was just about enough to cover the cost of his monthly COBRA bill…he’d been laid off permanently by then and in those years, that was the only medical insurance available to us. So if Reed proposes to gut both SSDI and the ACA, I’m not entirely sure what he means to do for people who find themselves in a situation like that of my husband’s (and trust me, it can happen to any of us). We can’t even set our sick and elderly on ice floes and push them out to sea anymore, since with the willful stupidity of climate deniers like Reed, those ice floes are themselves becoming scarce.


  5. josephurban says:

    Tom Reed is lucky Tom Reed was not in Congress when Tom Reed and his family lived off military pension death benefits and SS survivors’s benefits. I guess when his family needed the socialist government to step in and help it was necessary. . Times have changed.


  6. whungerford says:

    Thank you, Anne, for sharing your story. I know of other cases where people with terminal illness, obviously meeting the requirements, had to hire lawyers for a protracted struggle to win benefits.


  7. Anne says:

    We were lucky his treatment was at Mass General….not only is it a top-flight medical facility, but it also has the resources (like the aforementioned social work department) to help patients in their times of trouble. There’s a reason lawyers advertize their services for disability claims work.


  8. Deb Meeker says:

    Thank you Anne. Nothing is as powerful as hearing from one who has “walked the walk”.
    That Tom Reed abuses that phrase in reference to his malfeasance, is disgusting.


  9. Barbara Griffin says:

    There’s more fraud and abuse in Congress than in disability claims. Personally, I don’t know how disabled people survive the 2-3 year waiting period, physical/mental exams, and paperwork before being determined disabled. Congress, on the other hand, can fly around the country, stay in lavish hotels, enjoy lavish meals and entertainment, and just drop the bill in the tax payer’s hands. The solution to funding Social Security in general is simple: scrap the cap.


  10. BOB McGILL says:

    keep in mind that it is the democrats that want a bigger federal government 🙂


  11. josephurban says:

    Correct Barbara. The “Social Security is bankrupt” mantra is similar to “Benghazi” and the “no-go zones”. The lesson is that if you tell a lie often enough many people start to believe it.SS is an easy fix. We have known it for years and eventually it will happen. 1. Means-testing for distribution of benefits. 2. Extend the SS tax to ALL earned income, not just the first 120,000 or so. 3. Move a small percent of the capital gains tax into SS. 4. Increase the SS tax by less than 1%. Problem solved.


  12. BOB McGILL says:

    YOU SAID ”
    The lesson is that if you tell a lie often enough many people start to believe it
    YOU MEAN LIKE THIS ?…/noaanasa-dramatically-altered-us- temperatures-after-the-year-2000
    Jun 23, 2014 … Right after the year 2000, NASA and NOAA dramatically altered US climate ….. a
    pre-ordained conclusion: Human CO2 is warming the planet.

    now you tell me, did Obama lie in his speach the other day ?


  13. BOB McGILL says:

    Check out the above link, it also says, ” Right after the year 2000, NASA and NOAA dramatically altered US climate history, making the past much colder and the present much warmer. The animation below shows how NASA cooled 1934 and warmed 1998, to make 1998 the hottest year in US history instead of 1934. This alteration turned a long term cooling trend since 1930 into a warming trend. “


  14. josephurban says:

    Let me help you. Climate change means that the climate is changing. It manifests itself differently in different parts of the globe. There is the overall rise in temperature and melting of polar ice and then there are regional and local mini-climate events. The evidence is clear that the climate is changing and has been changing at an accelerating rate since the dawn of industrialization. The relationship between the increased use of fossil fuels and the accelerating warming of the globe is indisputable. Does that mean there are no regional or local variations? Of course not. As any scientist will attest to, There will always be those local and regional differences.
    Will the incontrovertible facts of science change closed minds ? Of course not. There are still people who believe aliens live on the moon, that 9/11 was a plot by GW Bush and that vaccinations cause autism. A closed mind, like a locked door, is not open to reason or evidence. So be it.


  15. BOB McGILL says:

    so the global warming hoax didn’t work so well and now it’s climate change 🙂 just another hoax if you ask me.
    NOAA Weather Stations
    Determining Global Temperature
    High resolution (Credit: NOAA)
    Q. Why is NOAA using fewer weather stations to measure surface temperature around the globe — from 6,000 to less than 1,500?
    The physical number of weather stations has shrunk as modern technology improved and some of the older outposts were no longer accessible in real time.

    However, over time, the data record for surface temperatures has actually grown, thanks to the digitization of historical books and logs, as well as international data contributions. The 1,500 real-time stations that we rely on today are in locations where NOAA scientists can access information on the 8th of each month. Scientists use that data, as well as ocean temperature data collected by a constantly expanding number of buoys and ships – 71 percent of the world is covered by oceans, after all – to determine the global temperature record.

    Q. Could stations located in potentially warmer locations near buildings and cities influence temperature readings?
    Yes. That is one reason why NOAA created the Climate Reference Network. These stations adhere to all of the established monitoring principles and are located in unpopulated areas. They are closely monitored and are subject to rigorous calibration procedures. It is a network designed specifically for assessing climate change.

    An effort is also underway to modernize the Historical Climatology Network of over 1,000 long-term weather and climate stations nationwide. Stations in the Southwest are currently undergoing modernization and maintenance through this program. Managers of both of these networks work diligently to locate stations in pristine areas where the dynamics of the immediate region, like urbanization, are unlikely to change very much over the coming decades.
    High resolution (Credit: NOAA)


  16. josephurban says:

    The website of Tony Heller (the real name of “Steve Goddard”) has been debunked more times than the birther stories. Which he also posts, by the way. Proving without a doubt that Mr Obama was born in Kenya ! . The guy does not even use his real name. That should give you a clue.
    His selective misuse of data on climate change is a joke. He has had to apologize to some scientists for misquoting them. He has been shown to be wrong by real scientists like Ted Scampos of the National Snow and Ice Center, data from the American Geophysical Union, and the website climaterocks, to name a few. He takes tiny bits of data out of context. Ignores the bulk of data. Easy to do. But that is not science.
    Hint: just because someone puts out a pretty blog n the internet does not make it true.


  17. BOB McGILL says:

    but, but, but that was from NOAA and NASA. Yep their official website ! Nice try though 🙂


  18. BOB McGILL says:

    did you see this ” (Credit: NOAA) ” where did you go to school, Penn Yan ?


  19. josephurban says:

    Bob. I did look on the website you copied from. And , as usual, you only copied PARTS of what was on the website. Since you have accepted that website as a legitimate source of climate information let me add the very next question and answer, which you inadvertently omitted. From the NOAA website quoted by Mr Bob McGill:

    Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?
    No. Even if NOAA did not have weather observing stations across the United States, the impacts of the warming are clear and present. For example, lake and river ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall. Plants are blooming earlier in the spring. Mountain glaciers are melting. Coastal temperatures are rising. A multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, uphill toward cooler areas.

    Thanks for the information further confirming climate change 😉


  20. BOB McGILL says:

    Over time, the thousands of weather stations around the world have undergone changes that often result in sudden or unrealistic discrepancies in observed temperatures requiring a correction.
    For the U.S.-based stations, we have access to detailed station history that helps us identify and correct discrepancies. Some of these differences have simple corrections.

    The most important difference globally was the modification in measured sea surface temperatures. In the past, ship measurements were taken by throwing a bucket over the side, bringing some ocean water on deck and putting a thermometer in it. Today, temperatures are recorded by reading thermometers in the engine coolant water intake — this is considered a more accurate measure of ocean temperature. The bucket readings used early in the record were cooler than engine intake observations, so the early data have been adjusted warmer to account for that difference. This makes global temperatures indicate less warming than the raw data does.

    The most important difference in the U.S. temperature record occurred with the systematic change in observing times from the afternoon (when it is warm) to morning (when it is cooler). This shift has resulted in a well-documented and increasing cool discrepancy over the last several decades and is addressed by applying a correction to the data.

    ” In the past, ship measurements were taken by throwing a bucket over the side, bringing some ocean water on deck and putting a thermometer in it. ” how scientific 🙂
    How stupid can you get ? And ” discrepancy over the last several decades and is addressed by applying a correction to the data. ” really ? and what kind of correction was that ?


  21. pystew says:

    “You drill a lot more oil, burn a lot more gas, put a lot more CO2 in the air, the earth’s atmosphere heats up, more moisture evaporates from the oceans yielding bigger storms in certain places and more droughts and fires in other places, and yes, more cold and snow in still other places.

    Yes, global warming systemically caused freezes in the American south. Yes, global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy— and the Midwest droughts and the fires in Colorado and Texas, as well as other extreme weather disasters around the world. Yes, systemically causing untold human harm and billions, if not trillions, of dollars in damage.”

    Lakoff, George (2014-09-23). The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate (p. 36). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.


  22. josephurban says:

    I love how the global warming deniers pick and choose data. Then, when they are proved wrong they immediately resort to insults. The sure sign of a lost argument.No data. No context. Just closing their eyes and saying “No. No. No”. I learned long go that you cannot open a closed mind. You can only help educate a mind that is open to be educated.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: NY 23rd Residents Receiving Social Security Benefits by Counties | New NY 23rd

  24. Pingback: A look at Rep. Reed’s Proposed Bills | New NY 23rd

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