Trump’s 2020 Budget: Billions In Social Security Disability Cuts

President Trump just released his proposed 2020 budget, including $84 billion in Social Security disability cuts over 10 years. And that isn’t the first time Trump budget cuts targeted vulnerable Americans in recent years. Let’s look at what that means for people who depend on disability benefits each month.

Proposed Social Security Disability Cuts: 50% Less Retroactive Pay Starting in 2019

Today, anyone approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits may also qualify for up to 12 months’ retroactive pay. This retroactive pay covers up to one year between when your impairment started to the month you applied for benefits. (This is because many people stop working as their condition’s symptoms worsen, then live off their savings before they apply.) But Trump’s proposed 2020 budget cuts retroactive pay in half, so claimants can only get six months’ worth of benefits. These Social Security disability cuts would roll out gradually over a 10-year period:

  • $362 million cut from retroactive lump-sum payments in 2019
  • $669 million cut from retroactive pay in 2020
  • $846 million cut from retroactive pay in 2021
  • $992 million cut from retroactive pay in 2022
  • $1.057 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2023
  • $1.126 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2024
  • $1.198 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2025
  • $1.268 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2026
  • $1.337 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2027
  • $1.401 billion cut from retroactive pay in 2028

This totals $10,256,000,000 ($10 billion, $256 million) in Social Security disability cuts to people’s lump-sum retroactive benefit payments through 2028.

Proposed Social Security Disability Cuts: Medicare Part D Prescriptions Go Up 85% In 10 Years

The proposed retroactive pay Social Security disability cuts will mostly hurt people newly approved for benefits over the next decade. Trump’s 2020 budget also aims to slash 10% from Medicare spending, which affects people getting SSDI more than 24 months. Two years after your claim’s approved, SSDI beneficiaries automatically qualify for Medicare coverage.

However, President Trump’s 2020 budget proposal aims to cut $70 billion in Medicare spending just on prescription drugs. Here’s how the Social Security disability cuts to Medicare spending may affect you starting in 2019:

  1. Manufacturer discounts on prescription drugs will no longer count towards beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs during the Part D coverage gap. This “donut hole” spans the time between Part D’s $3,820 drug plan limit and $5,100 catastrophic coverage eligibility threshold. People in Medicare’s “donut hole” today pay 25% for brand-name drugs, but can apply manufacturer discounts towards their out-of-pocket costs. Going forward, Medicare beneficiaries must spend all their own money to hit their $5,100 out-of-pocket max spending limit. Once they pass that spending threshold, drug costs fall back to just 25% again.
  2. The catastrophic Medicare Part D coverage threshold amount will rise significantly in 2020. Right now, Medicare Part D coverage lets seniors and disabled people pay $25 for every $100 worth of name-brand drugs. But Medicare limits that drug coverage to just $3,820 in 2019. After that, Medicare beneficiaries must pay $100 for refills until they’ve spent $5,100 out of pocket. Once they do, the drug price drops back to $25 again. But in 2020, that threshold amount rises from $5,100 to $6,350. Every year after that, the out-of-pocket maximum goes up another $450. Finally, the catastrophic coverage limit will be $9,450 in 2027. In other words, the price for catastrophic Medicare Part D coverage goes up more than 85% in eight years!

Proposed Social Security Disability Cuts: Create a “Sliding Scale” for Families On SSI

In addition to SSDI, the Social Security Administration (SSA) manages another disability benefits program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In 2019, the maximum SSI payment for a single person is $771 per month. But if you’re a couple and both people qualify for SSI, the maximum monthly payment amount is just $1,157. It’s unclear what a “sliding scale” for multi-recipient SSI families actually means for people who depend on those payments. According to Trump’s 2020 budget proposal, these Social Security disability cuts to SSI total $6 billion, $801 million by 2028.

SNAP, TANF Program Reductions May Also Impact Those On Disability Benefits

In addition to the above Social Security disability cuts, Trump’s proposed 2020 budget reduces spending on other federal aid programs. Here’s how and when those budget cuts may go into effect:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Starting in 2019, SNAP beneficiaries aged 18-64 must meet a 20-hour weekly work requirement. Anyone who cannot work 20 hours per week will likely lose access to food stamps. The proposed budget also cuts $220 billion in funding for SNAP benefits between 2019 to 2028.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – Starting in 2019, Trump’s proposed 2020 budget cuts at least $1.1 billion annually in TANF funding. Currently, states receive block grants that fund monthly TANF payments for qualified families.
  • HUD Affordable Housing Programs – Cut $9.6 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s budget. This means 18% less funding for programs like Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), Project-Based Rental Assistance (PRBA) and public housing vouchers. In addition, President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget eliminates the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF) completely. Anyone on HUD rental assistance must now pay 35% of their gross income instead of 30% and meet certain work requirements.

Worried about how these Social Security disability cuts may affect your own benefits? You can always get free, confidential legal advice from an experienced lawyer near you. Whether you have questions about filing your claim or want professional help appealing your denial, let us help you! Legal assistance is the best way to get paid the most benefits you’re owed faster than filing on your own. These lawyers work on contingency, so you’ll never pay a dime unless they help you win benefits. And if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee. It’s federal law!

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.