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A possible reform for SSDI that would help the disabled

For many workers in Ohio who develop a medical condition that impairs their ability to work, may feel left on their own. They may have lost a job because their impairment makes it impossible to continue in their trade, like a construction worker or a restaurant server who has injured his or her back. They may have developed a medical condition, such as lung cancer or heart disease leaves them absent too often or without the stamina to handle a 40-hour week.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is ready to help, once they complete the application process and are approved to receive benefits. This process, for a worker suffering a disability can be a daunting prospect that they may need the assistance of an attorney to successfully submit a claim.

However, SSDI is facing challenges, including a funding shortfall caused by the exhaustion of the SSDI trust fund. This could require the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reduce benefit payments if Congress fails to address this issue.

This problem is made worse by the growth of the program, in part, because few beneficiaries ever leave the program and return to the workforce. A group of economists suggests the U.S. could implement reforms based on the experience of several European nations that could help restrain future growth.

They note that, “Ensuring that their citizens with disabilities have the opportunity to work in the paid labor market is now a government priority.” This means the government work with employers to retrain and rehabilitate workers.

Given the current climate in Washington, we fear there would be little taste for the difficult political and administrative changes that would need to be made to implement such a program.

Source: Cornell Chronicle, “Economists: How to slow the growth in disability claims,” H. Roger Segelken, March 12, 2014

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