How will Donald Trump and Joe Bidens’ policies affect the disabled?
Author Attorney Greg Reed:
As the November presidential election approaches people with disabilities and those who advocate on their behalf need to start thinking about the choice ahead of them. Being aware of each candidates policies for the disabled can help voters make informed choices.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) will be 30 years old on July 26.
This landmark law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, guaranteeing equal opportunity to people with disabilities in employment, education, transportation, government services and telecommunications. Although much progress has been made, there is more work to do if people with disabilities are to live full lives as independently as possible. Advocates for the disabled community are looking ahead to November’s election to decide which candidates can best meet these challenges.
The Trump administration has yet to unveil an agenda focused on the needs of the disabled community, except for a proposal to establish an “expert panel” to develop new programs to bring the disabled into the workforce.
Unfortunately, it failed to describe how this program would work. However, several issues which directly impact people with disabilities and those who receive Social Security Disability benefits were addressed in President Trumps 2021 fiscal budget, which was proposed in February of this year, but has yet to be voted on by Congress. The administration’s proposed 2021 budget is full of cuts aimed at programs that provide support and services to people with disabilities. Among the institutions and initiatives targeted for funding cuts are SSDI and SSI, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
Specifically, these proposals include:
- Reducing SSDI backpay from 12 months to six months
- Adding a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) category requiring beneficiaries to prove their disability every two years
- Cutting $8 billion from the SSI program over a ten-year period
- Cutting Medicaid and Affordable Care Act funding by $1 trillion over 10 years
- End federal funding for states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA
- Cutting food stamps by tightening restrictions and raising eligibility requirements
- Reduce funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development which would eliminate grant programs and rental assistance for many people who are disabled
- Cutting funding to the Office of Disability Employment Policy
- Decrease funding to Lifespan Respite Care Program which provides aid to family caregivers of people with disabilities by 50%
- Cut programs that provide legal services to people with disabilities
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Additionally, in March the Trump administration began drafting a rule that would include redefining full-time work as 30 hours per week instead of 40 in determining whether someone is disabled.
This rule, if finalized, would effectively result in fewer people qualifying for benefits and bring major changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance program.
Joe Biden has a long history of supporting legislation that has positively impacted people with disabilities.
As a Senator and later as Vice President, Biden helped pass the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and the Affordable Care Act. In addition to building on the Affordable Care Act, Biden promises to implement policies that will improve the lives of people with disabilities, addressing several issues including affordable housing, good jobs, and accessible transportation.
Following are some of the main points of his current plan:
- Appoint a Director of Disability Policy to ensure that people with disabilities are included in policy development and implementation.
- Recruit qualified people with disabilities to fill leadership posts throughout government.
- Protect the Affordable Care Act and guarantee access to affordable healthcare, including mental health services.
- Provide a tax credit of $5,000 to informal caregivers, such as an individual caring for a parent or other family member.
- Expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities and phase out the subminimum wage.
- Ensure students with disabilities have access to education programs by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
- Expand access to affordable housing and transportation.
- Provide greater access to home and community-based services that are essential to many people with disabilities.
- Protect Medicare and Medicaid.
- Reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
- Aggressively enforce civil rights laws impacting people with disabilities including the Help America Vote Act.
- Fund initiatives to train law enforcement how to respond to individuals with disabilities.
When Joe Biden first took office, President Obama put him in charge of implementing a stimulus package to boost an economy that faced a significant downturn.
The country is again facing serious economic challenges affecting all citizens, but especially those receiving Social Security benefits. The National Council on Disability found that “people with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities.”
To protect the economic security of people with disabilities, Biden plans to initiate the following:
- Eliminate the five-month waiting period for SSDI and the two-year waiting period for Medicare.
- Phase out the “benefit cliff” for SSDI and increase the benefit limit so that people with disabilities are not discouraged from employment or internship opportunities when they depend on SSDI.
- Increase the SSI benefit level to 100% of the poverty level.
- Eliminate the SSI marriage penalty and increase asset limits associated with SSI.
- Expand access to ABLE accounts
- Provide resources to fully fund and staff Social Security field offices and teleservice centers.
November is months away, but it’s not too early for people with disabilities and those who advocate on their behalf to start thinking about the choice ahead of them.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you are not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Greg Reed has been practicing law for 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion Gold rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Reed obtained board certification from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Greg is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and the United States Court of Appeals-Fifth Circuit. Mr. Reed is a member of the Travis County Bar Association, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, past Director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association, and an Associate member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. Mr. Reed and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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