The Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act of 2015 (H.R. 918).
(Rep. Reed is a cosponsor of H.R. 918)
Even though disability benefits are for those who can’t work and unemployment benefits are for those who can work, under current law someone can receive both benefits at the same time,” said (House Ways and Means Subcommittee) Chairman Johnson. “That just doesn’t make sense. This commonsense legislation ends this double dipping and preserves Social Security benefits for only those who truly cannot work. I’m committed to finding real solutions to help the solvency of the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and this bill is a step in the right direction.”
“This is an idea that even the President himself outlined in his most recent budget,” added (Senate Finance Committee) Chairman Hatch. “By closing this loophole that allows for individuals to qualify for both disability and unemployment, we can reduce duplicative spending, as the President’s budget recognizes, and preserve benefits for those that need them most.”
“Protecting a critical program like Social Security should be a bipartisan endeavor,” said (House Ways and Means Committee) Chairman Ryan. “This proposal builds upon a provision in President Obama’s budget, and it’s an important step toward strengthening the Disability Insurance Trust Fund.”
It is astonishing how quick Republicans are to agree with President Obama when he proposes something they like. The President’s budget also called for increased funding for SSDI, but Republicans ignore that.
When I read that something is “common sense,” I am suspicious. Is H.R. 918 a good idea?
- Is it true that disability benefits are for those who can’t work? Tom Reed wants those who can work to forgo benefits. Should those who are disabled and employed be denied disability benefits? That would certainly be a disincentive to working.
- Are there legitimate reasons that some might qualify for both disability and unemployment benefits? How about a person who becomes disabled while working and is laid off?
- Should we provide benefits only to those who need them most or rather to all those in need?
- Would disallowing unemployment benefits to the disabled save enough to make SSDI solvent without any increase in funding?
The motivation for bills often isn’t clear. H.R. 918 might be a responsible effort to save money or a mean spirited effort to shortchange the disabled. Disabled workers now receive an average of $1,146 a month–not much to live on, and one often needs to hire a lawyer to get even that.
According to the Ways and Means Committee fact sheet:
- In fiscal year 2010, at least 117,000 people received DI and UI benefits at the same time, representing less than 1 percent of total beneficiaries of both programs.
- The GAO estimates the overlapping cash benefits paid to these recipients totaled over $281 million from DI and more than $575 million from UI.
Social Security Disability expense is more than $100 billion, so the estimated savings of $281 million are insignificant. This makes me think the motives of the sponsors of H.R. 918 are less than pure; H.R. 918 is another illegitimate excuse for shortchanging the disabled.
© William Hungerford – February 2015