PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The Trump Administration has systematically attacked the Social Security disability programs—from proposing monitoring people with disabilities through social media in order to cancel their benefits, including their health care, to tightening eligibility through a proposal to redefine the number of hours in a work week so some applicants do not receive benefits. The National Council on Disability found that “people with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities.” To protect the economic security of people with disabilities and increase employment opportunities, Biden will take a holistic approach to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid, and other programs to support people with disabilities. He will:
- Increase the benefit level for people receiving SSI. Biden will set a federal benefit rate of at least 100% of the poverty level.
- Eliminate the five-month waiting period for SSDI and two-year waiting period for Medicare. Biden will work to pass legislation to ensure working people who develop a condition or disability are able to get their Social Security support as well as their Medicare benefits as soon as they qualify.
- Eliminate the “benefit cliff” for SSDI. Earnings limits under SSDI can discourage people with disabilities from engaging in employment or internship opportunities when they depend on SSDI funds. Biden will increase this limit and phase out this benefit gradually so people with disabilities don’t have to choose between employment and health care.
- Reform the SSI program so that it doesn’t limit beneficiaries’ freedom to marry, save, or live where they choose. Biden will work with Congress and the disability community to eliminate the SSI marriage penalty and “in-kind support and maintenance” provision and raise the asset limits associated with SSI that have not been increased since 1984.
- Expand access to tax-advantaged savings accounts, ABLE accounts, which provide people with disabilities a way to pay for “qualified disability-related expenses, such as education, housing and transportation.” Biden will work to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which will make ABLE accounts available to 6 million additional adults with disabilities, including 1 million veterans.
- Reverse damage done to Social Security rules by the Trump Administration. President Trump announced that he wants to change the Social Security rules for people who get disability benefits, including SSI and SSDI. His proposed change would require many to re-verify their disability every two years, a tough enough process to get through once, targeting adults with disabilities who are close to retirement, children with disabilities, and people with certain medical conditions including cancer and behavioral disorders. If approved by the Trump Administration, Biden will rescind this harmful proposal.
- Strengthen the Social Security Administration. Ensuring that Social Security benefits are easy to access and that field offices and teleservice centers are fully funded is key to our bedrock commitment to seniors and people with disabilities. Cutting Social Security services will only hurt the most vulnerable in our communities. Biden will provide sufficient resources for staffing needs to meet the needs of beneficiaries today and into the future.