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Should employers bear some of the costs of SSDI?

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee., Joyce Manchester, an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), suggested that one way to improve the economic health of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) would be to reduce the number of workers who need SSDI. If employers could help keep workers healthy while they are employed and provide greater support for workers who have some disability, to enable them to remain employed, the demands on SSDI could be reduced.

An award of benefits under SSDI hinges on both the disabling condition and the availability of work for someone with that condition. The current system allows employers to view workers as expendable, that once they have extracted all of the easily obtainable “value” from them, they then can discard them and let taxpayers deal with the problems.

Manchester proposes that by making employers responsible for the initial years of SSDI benefits pay out, as some European nations do, the employer would have a strong incentive to try to rehabilitate or find other work for these employees.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to help allow workers with disabilities to remain working with reasonable accommodations. If SSDI could be modified to match the goals of the ADA, it might be possible to provide assistance for both workers who are completely disabled and those who can remain in the workforce with help.

This proposal would face opposition from employers, who obviously benefit from the current system, but we find it ironic that employers, who claim we should allow market solutions to help fix Social Security issues, would object to this type of solution, which properly allocates economic costs to their source.

Source: LifeHealthPro.com, “Could employers help cut SSDI claims?” Allison Bell, March 14, 2013

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