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SSD advocate: Don't let detractors derail disability program

A Democratic senator says he is tired of “backdoor attempts to dismantle … Social Security by discrediting disability insurance.”

In fact, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says that supporters of Social Security Disability need to stop marshalling a defend-against-attacks strategy against vehement opponents of the program and instead “play offense and expand the program.”

Brown and fellow advocates of SSD say that the persistent attempts of program bashers to portray the disability benefits program as prohibitively expensive and replete with fraud and abuse need to be forcefully countered.

Moreover, notes the senator, they need to be exposed “for what they are,” which Brown says are maneuvers by critics to eliminate the Social Security system by casting aspersions on the SSD program.

Brown recently made a specific reference to the calls of some to stop a small minority of SSD recipients from also collecting unemployment benefits. He noted that the SSD program enables recipients to work in a limited capacity in some lower paying jobs. When those jobs are lost, the unemployment money received is typically quite small.

Brown says that critics of so-called “double dipping” purposefully paint an inaccurate picture when they describe it. Statistics supplied by the Congressional Research Service would seem to readily support the senator’s assertion. The CRS states that, overall, less than one percent of all recipients of SSD benefits and unemployment money actually receive assistance from both programs. Moreover, the total expenditure on those who do comprises a paltry half of one percent or so on the money spent by either of the two initiatives.

Brown says that keeping the SSD program viable wouldn’t take much. In fact, one estimate posits that merely raising income taxes by about 0.2 percent would render the program solvent until nearly the end of the century.

Source: Plain Dealer, “It’s time to expand Social Security, not cut it, Sen. Sherrod Brown says,” Stephen Koff, July 8, 2014

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