Brown Slams Trump Administration Proposal to Add Unnecessary Burdens on Ohioans with Disabilities, Increase Disability Backlog

Senator Wrote to Trump Administration to Criticize its Proposal to Dramatically and Unnecessarily Increase Frequency of Reviews of Ohioans who Receive SSDI, SSI Benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he blasts a harmful proposal by the Trump Administration to dramatically increase the frequency and number of reviews for individuals who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The proposal would harm Ohioans with disabilities and underscores how the President’s agenda leaves Ohioans behind.

This week, the President’s budget also included billions in cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that will make it even harder for Ohioans with disabilities to make ends meet.

“The Trump Administration wants to make Ohioans jump through bureaucratic hoops and complete more unnecessary paperwork – wasting taxpayer money in the process,” said Brown. “There’s no reason to do this other than cruelty. This is all part of President Trump’s efforts to pay for his corporate tax cuts on the backs of working families and seniors. We won’t let them get away with it.”

Brown was joined on the call by Ms. Katie Hunt Thomas, Director of Advocacy and a disability rights attorney for the Ability Center in Sylvania to discuss why the Trump Administration’s proposal would be harmful to Ohioans with disabilities. 

“If the SSA enacts the proposed regulations, people with disabilities who are caught in this administrative burden will lose benefits and health care, making it even more difficult for them to rise out of poverty or denying them the basics required for a life with dignity.  The Social Security Administration should not enact the proposed regulations,” said Ms. Hunt Thomas.

Late last month, Brown joined Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and other Senate Democrats on a letter to Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul to oppose the increase in continuing disability reviews (CDR). The Senators point out that the new proposal would burden Americans with disabilities with more frequent and unjustified reviews that will make it harder to receive benefits and also increase backlogs.

This week, Brown and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the ASSET Act, which would eliminate asset limits as a means of eligibility for three vital public assistance programs and raise asset limits for a fourth program. While asset limits are part of the SSI program design, limits have not been raised or even adjusted for inflation since 1989. The ASSET Act raises SSI asset limits from $2,000 to $10,000 for an individual and $3,000 to $20,000 for a couple, and indexes those thresholds to inflation.

In December, Brown and Casey announced that the Trump Administration heeded their request and put an end to their invasive and controversial proposal that sought to monitor and follow the social media accounts of Americans who receive SSDI benefits. In March, following a New York Times report that outlined this proposal, the Senators penned a letter to raise several questions about the proposal related to the privacy of American citizens, the already limited resources available to Social Security Administration (SSA) workers, and plans to increase the scope of the social media monitoring program.

In September, Brown and Casey introduced the Stop the Wait Act, which would eliminate outdated, mandatory waiting periods imposed on individuals with disabilities that can potentially further harm their health by delaying critical health care. After waiting months to qualify for coverage through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), individuals with disabilities are forced to wait another five months to get a disability check and another two years to obtain health coverage through Medicare. In 2017, more than 10,000 American died while waiting for SSDI benefits to begin. The wait times greatly affect adults with rapidly progressing diseases such as Huntington’s Disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis and other serious conditions.