Ahead of a public comment period ending Friday, dozens of U.S. senators came together Tuesday in a letter opposing a Trump administration proposal that could cut off hundreds of thousands of people from an estimated $2.6 billion in Social Security disability benefits over a decade.
“This proposed rule appears to simply be another transparent attempt from the Trump administration to make it more difficult for Americans to access essential supports and benefits.”
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Alex Lawson, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Social Security Works, told Common Dreams last month that the proposed rule change “is the Trump administration’s most brazen attack on Social Security yet.”
The rule, published in the Federal Register by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in November 2019, would force people to more frequently complete continuing disability reviews (CDR) to keep their benefits.
The senators wrote in their letter (pdf) to SSA Commissioner Andrew M. Saul Tuesday that “the proposed rule would dramatically increase the number of CDRs the agency conducts every year and burden millions of Americans with disabilities with more frequent, unjustified reviews of their eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.”
“At a time when leadership from SSA is sorely needed to further reduce unacceptably long disability application wait times and eliminate the disability backlog,” declared the letter, “it is alarming that the agency appears more concerned with devoting limited resources toward making it harder for people with disabilities to receive essential benefits.”
The letter accused the SSA of failing to justify the need for the specific changes, or fully examine the consequences, pointing out that the published proposal “does not even provide a cursory estimate of the number of people who will lose access to benefits earlier than they would have otherwise as a result of this rule.”
“This proposed rule appears to simply be another transparent attempt from the Trump administration to make it more difficult for Americans to access essential supports and benefits,” the letter concluded, urging SSA to withdraw it “immediately.”
The four members of the upper chamber who are competing in a crowded field for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination—Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—are all among the 41 signatories.
Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (Penn.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio), two of the lawmakers who led the letter effort, spoke at a live-streamed #NoSocialSecurityCuts event Tuesday that also featured remarks from advocates for people with disabilities.
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