Trump targets Americans on Social Security Disability Insurance

2017-06-02_0029 Mike Mulvaney
White House Budget Director Mike Mulvaney

Disabled Americans, who have paid into the system, probably shouldn’t be worried: This budget is dead-on-arrival in Congress, and this is nothing more than red meat rhetoric for the base, who wrongly believe there aren’t already stringent safeguards in place against fraud. From CBS News

Mr. Trump drew criticism from disability-rights advocates for his budget, which proposes major cuts to Medicaid and social safety net programs.

To disability insurance lawyers and experts, Mulvaney’s presentation demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of SSDI, which does not cover partial or short-term disability, as the budget director claimed.

Rather, “Social Security disability beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired in the country,” the agency’s site says. “In fact, Social Security disability beneficiaries are more than three times as likely to die in a year as other people the same age.”

But perhaps more troubling, experts say, is the way Mulvaney talks about disabled people.

“I feel like there’s a lot of language being used that reflects attitudes that somehow people with disabilities are faking it or are slackers or just don’t have the right attitude,” Kate Lang, a senior staff attorney from Justice in Aging, a non-profit legal advocacy organization, told CBS News.

“Unfortunately there is a certain lack of sympathy or understanding of what life is like for people with disabilities, it seems,” Lang added.

The Organization for Economic Development ranks the eligibility standard for federal disability benefits in the United States as being “one of the most stringent eligibility criteria, including the most rigid reference to all jobs available in the labor market” among member countries. Only Korea has a more stringent standard.

Mulvaney also did not mention is that “the best available evidence shows that the level of actual disability fraud is below one percent,” due to pre-existing fraud programs already in place, according to a 2014 testimony from Carolyn Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration at the time. Other research from the Social Security Administration shows that only four in ten people who apply to SSDI are approved, and the process can take months and even years.

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