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Do Politics Matter to the Disabled, Widows and the Elderly? In a word, yes.

Published on October 6th, 2020

In a country that is divided philosophically along so many topics, it is becoming increasingly clear that Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid are on the political table.

While supposedly independent, Social Security is subject to the impact of political partisanship. Funding of operations is a key lever for Congress – determining Social Security’s budget directly impacts Social Security’s ability to deliver key programs and services. Funding specific programs forces Social Security to divert resources to that program, even if leadership views other issues as more critical. Changing regulations regarding disability and entitlement can restrict awards.

The solvency of the Trust Funds is the core issue facing the government. While benefits are assured for decades to come, there is a risk that some will be reduced if politicians fail to make the leadership decisions expected of them. Continuing to “kick the can down the road” leadership must come to an end.

Resolution of the Social Security funding issues feeds into our political divisions. The Social Security 2100 Act proposed by the present Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee proposes a blend of payroll tax increases, changes to the taxation of benefits and changes to protect low benefit beneficiaries that would protect full payment of all benefits for many decades.

Alternatively, there are proposals to reduce benefits by cutting back significantly on the payment of back benefits to the disabled when an application is finally approved; increasing terminations with more Continuing Disability Reviews for disabled persons over 50; eliminate independent Administrative Law Judges and replacing them with more politically controlled adjudicators; eliminate the direct payment of attorney fees; and, to continue the trend of making the Listings of impairments more restrictive.

Other political issues would impact upon health insurance for the disabled, elderly and poor. Virtually all advocates for these groups will agree the proposal to make Medicaid a “block grant” program would be disastrous when the money expires before the next year’s appropriations. This would definitely impact health care for recipients. Allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to reduce drug prices is another key debate among politicians. Certainly whether, and if so, how to expand the coverage of the Medicare and Medicaid programs is also in the news every day.

Social service providers, medical specialists, support group leaders, union members all understand how Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid impact the lives of millions of Americans. It is up to us to educate our leaders at the local, state and national levels and keep them aware of how their decisions change the lives of the disabled and most needy in the United States.

 

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
Your Congressperson and Senators do want to hear from you. You can contact them by phone, mail or email and your voice will be heard. Remember that there are groups whose priorities are not on the welfare of the disabled and they lobby Congress every day. Those of us who care need to also participate. To find your elected officials, go to: www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

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