We’ve recently spent several posts talking about the need for creative solutions to our nation’s budget crisis to keep Social Security Disability benefits going toward people in Oregon and elsewhere who desperately need them. Many worry about the program’s long-term solvency, which could mean benefit cuts for current beneficiaries and denial of benefits for future applicants.
One prestigious think tank has come along with a proposal to help more disabled people get to work, which could save Social Security and federal coffers billions of dollars over the next decade. According to the proposal put forward, there is a flood of baby boomers who will be entering into their prime years for needing disability benefits.
According to the report, there are simple steps that Congress and government can take now to help set future reforms in motion that could save even more money while not harming disabled people. One of the ideas is pilot projects designed around intervening earlier to help disabled people keep working instead of having to receive disability benefits when their condition gets so bad that they can no longer work.
One of the projects proposed is to get an applicant to suspend their application process in exchange for health and wage subsidies and services that can help them get back to work. According to the report, programs targeting current beneficiaries have not been effective, so the key is to help people before they begin receiving disability benefits.
It’s true that many disability benefit recipients would rather be working and making a living wage than receiving Social Security benefits, which in many cases is barely enough to cover basic living expenses. New ideas are needed to protect the program for people who need the benefits, but perhaps there is an upside to helping other disabled people get back to work.
Source: The Brookings Institution, “An Evidence-Based Path to Disability Insurance Reform,” Jeffrey Liebman & Jack Smalligan, Feb. 26, 2013