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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) "Reform" Prompts Republican Lawmaker To Vow, "I'm Coming After You"

Alexa's picture

Here's an interesting C-Span video from its morning call-in show, "Washington Journal."

[C-Span, Washington Journal, "Gang Of Six Deficit Reduction Plan"]

While a bit dated (his appearance on C-Span was during 2011, during the lead-up to the Super Committee's failed attempt at deficit reduction) this video clip is still pertinent because the Senate HELP [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] Committee has been holding hearings on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Reform for several years now.

Led by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin (IA), this committee is in favor of reforming our Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

Apparently, Republican Senator Tom Coburn is also an "enthusiastic supporter" of this idea.

For what it's worth, Senator Coburn and the President are close friends. Here's a NewsOk piece about their friendship, entitled "U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, Barack Obama Form Unlikely Friendship."

Below is Coburn's most pertinent statement regarding the American citizens whom he perceives to be "gaming the SSDI system."

"But if somebody's gaming the system, I've got a word for 'em--in my remaining five years in Congress, I'm coming after you, if you're planning to game the system, stealing from the American People."

The recommendations for 'reform' have been rather vague, but one that I take seriously is the one that suggests that the SSDI program be modeled after the VA Disability program.

As I understand it, the bulk (if not all) of SSDI recipients are considered 100% disabled.

Under the VA system, the are many 'gradients' (based on percentages) of disability, and therefore the disability compensation varies considerably, and in many cases, is definitely not generous enough "to live on."

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Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

Please allow me to clarify:

On the surface, the Senator's sentiment seems very reasonable. I too, would not like to see anyone "game the system."

But the Senator has greatly exaggerated the likelihood that individuals can "swindle" the SSDI system.

As a matter of fact, I watched a (video) panel discussion on this topic just a few days ago, which featured the Chief Actuary for the SSA, Stephen Goss.

Mr. Goss stated explicitly that we have the toughest disability system BY FAR in all of the OECD countries (and the most meager one, at that).

And Senator Harkin is on record also, stating that he is seeking reform as a "savings measure."

It appears that no social insurance programs will be left untouched by this deficit reduction mania.

Already our Unemployment Insurance benefits have been greatly reduced under this Administration.

Where does it all end, is my question.