Last year, the President promised not to cut Social Security or Medicare spending during his campaign. Mr. Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, however, would reduce disability benefits by $70 billion over the next decade. These Trump budget cuts will be difficult to implement, and the proposed requirements included in these reductions haven’t yet passed. These include the rule that disability recipients must re-enter the workforce for certain benefits, which we’ll explain below.
Still, it’s wise to understand just what’s on the table. According to recent reporting by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the 2018 Trump budget cuts programs for low- and moderate-income people by $2.5 trillion. Read on for a quick overview of how the proposed budget affects disability benefits.
How Trump Budget Cuts Reduce SSDI Benefits Going Forward
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) was legislated in 1956 to protect employees who become too disabled to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the program’s monthly payments to beneficiaries as well as approving or denying applicant’s claims. SSDI draws from payroll contributions rather than directly allocated federal tax funds. The program, according to Time, currently serves nearly nine million disabled American workers as well as almost two million dependents.
SSDI has been in the news a lot lately due to the rising number of recipients. Between 1996 and 2015, the number of Americans on SSDI increased from 7.7 million to 13 million. Democrats believe this upward trend is due to an aging population and more labor-force participation. Republicans, however, blame the steadily increasing numbers on fraud and an over-reliance on the federal government’s benefit programs.
Under the proposed 2018 Trump budget cuts, the program would lose $70 billion from its budget over the next decade.
New Disability Program Rules Proposed to Help Enforce Benefit Reductions
The budget hopes to promote greater labor force participation (LFP) among disabled Americans by testing some new SSDI program rules. One such proposal would require mandatory participation in back-to-work programs by SSDI applicants and beneficiaries. First, Congress must establish an expert panel in order to identify specific, evidence-based changes to program rules. This panel will be responsible for finding ways to reduce program participation in order to meet proposed Trump budget cuts. Ultimately, the budgetary goal is to have 5% fewer people receiving Social Security disability benefits each month by 2027.
According to the budget documents themselves, the Trump Administration calls on Congress to:
- Test “time-limited benefits” for beneficiaries
- Require applicants to engage in job-seeking activities before reviewing their application
- Push existing State vocational rehabilitation offices to intervene when individuals are on track to need benefits
The budget also advocates for replicating welfare-to-work strategies in state TANF offices to provide wellness care and vocational services. In addition, the proposed Trump budget cuts require lower back pain and arthritis sufferers to complete rehab before receiving benefits.
Trump Budget Cuts Extend to SSI Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that helps aged, blind, and disabled people with little or no income. SSI provides beneficiaries with cash to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Unlike SSDI, general tax revenues fund SSI — not Social Security taxes. The proposed 2018 Trump budget cuts also show reductions for the SSI program that will go into effect next year.
For example, families currently receive an equal amount in benefits for each SSI child recipient. The 2018 Trump budget proposes to create a sliding scale for SSI that considers the number of additional family recipients. It would keep the maximum benefit for one recipient, but reduce benefits for additional SSI beneficiaries in the same family.
SNAP and TANF Included In Proposed Budget Cuts
Trump’s proposed budget may also affect people who depend on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for their monthly food budget. The current proposed Trump budget cuts includes a $191 billion reduction in SNAP funding. This amount would reduce SNAP spending through a combination of eligibility and benefit cuts. Further, states would gradually increase matched funding to cover the SNAP program’s 25% reduction in costs by 2023. During natural disasters, low-income children, families, seniors, and disabled Americans are guaranteed access to basic nutrition at the Federal level.
The 2018 Trump budget cuts include $21.8 billion in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) reductions over a 10-year period. Additional proposed reforms include:
- Closing eligibility loopholes by limiting categorical eligibility to participants receiving cash benefits from TANF or SSI
- Modifying income and benefit calculations to ensure benefits are targeted to the neediest households
- Limiting the use of waivers that exempt able-bodied adults without dependents from working
Read the FY2018 budget proposal for further details.
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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.