Today, people in New York and elsewhere are allowed, under federal law, to receive unemployment benefits and Social Security disability benefits at the same time. For some families, receiving both at once ensures that they will barely scrape by each month. Now, however, the president is seeking to change that.
In his latest budget proposal, he snuck in a rule change that could leave some families living at around half the poverty level. The change, sold as a way to save money, would disallow a person from collecting both unemployment and SSD benefits at the same time. The argument, however, is less than convincing.
Aside from the fact that collecting both benefits, on average, leaves a family of four hovering around the poverty line, the money it would save the government is miniscule: a projected $3.2 billion over a decade. According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, $3.2 billion is far less than 1 percent of what the government will likely spend in those 10 years.
Disability advocates are, of course, appalled by this concept. They have argued that the SSD program is not a life-time support system, but rather a way to provide financial support to those who will eventually find work. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t even plan to put what little they could save back into the disability program, which is set to be completely broke in just two years.
For those who receive both SSD and unemployment benefits, the thought of having to cut their income essentially in half may be devastating. For now, however, the provision is merely part of a proposal. Hopefully our leaders take the time to listen to disability advocates and learn about the detriment this provision would create for many people.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “The attack on the disabled buried in the president’s new budget,” Michael Hiltzik, March 5, 2014