Wednesday, December 23, 2020
The Hill ran an item a couple of weeks ago, Social Security Administration is preparing to bar 500,000 Americans from getting benefits.
SSA’s proposal, as described in press reports, would make it harder for older workers to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. By law (not regulation), SSA is required to consider age, education and work experience when determining whether a person meets the statutory definition of disability.
The implications are far reaching-if this proposal is passed.
In short, SSA’s proposal to tighten SSDI benefits fails to even advance past a very basic question about the suggested policy: What is the point? Looking at recent or modern data, the current system routinely denies benefits to older individuals with serious health problems and diminished prospects in the modern economy. Amplifying these outcomes by trying to get even more denials is not a rational policy approach.
The proposal would also exacerbate inequality in the United States along the lines of race and income. More than 25 percent of denied Social Security disability applicants are Black, a percentage that far exceeds the percentage of African Americans in the overall working age population. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of denied applicants live in poverty. SSA’s proposal to get more denials seems out of touch with regard to many of the serious problems facing the country.
It remains to be seen whether the administration will continue to push this through before President-elect Biden takes office. Although the change could be undone, wouldn't it be nice if it just didn't happen?
Thanks to my colleague, Professor Mark Bauer, for sending me the article.