Many people are misinformed when it comes to disability benefits. They think that recipients are all just taking advantage of the system and getting rich off the free money. However, there may be nothing further from the truth.
In reality, recipients of Social Security disability benefits are struggling with a debilitating injury or illness that makes it difficult or impossible to care for themselves. Because of this, they may not have the ability to work and earn a living and end up relying on SSDI benefits to cover the most basic expenses. These benefits are very limited and many people are barely able to survive on disability checks alone. Thankfully, the Social Security system has measures in place to encourage and support people who still can and want to work.
However, now lawmakers are considering a budget plan that would actually punish recipients of SSDI for working and being let go. The plan would eliminate benefits for SSDI recipients who lose their job and apply for unemployment.
Currently, people who are fired through no fault of their own are able to apply for and receive unemployment benefits. This money can provide a crucial financial bridge between jobs; but like SSDI, these benefits are less than people would earn while working.
There is a small percentage of people who collect both types of benefits, and lawmakers see this as a serious problem. They call it “double dipping” and they want to put a stop to it by approving a budget that would make recipients of SSDI ineligible to collect them if they have returned to work but are fired.
Critics of this proposed cut argue that eliminating this benefit for disabled workers will effectively hurt — not help — the Social Security disability system because it will discourage people from trying to re-enter the workforce. Currently, there are programs in place that support people who want to try going back to work without losing their SSDI benefits. By taking away these benefits in the event of a firing, people may be too scared to try and get a job because they could lose it and then not have the safety net of their disability benefits.
The proposed cut has yet to be approved, and previous efforts to make similar cuts have failed to pass. It will be interesting to see how this will play out and we will follow any developments closely.
Source: Center for American Progress, “Cutting Social Security Disability Insurance Won’t Help Anyone Go Back to Work,” Rebecca Vallas, April 14, 2015