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‘Concocted with no evidence’: Trump plan would cut disability benefits for hundreds of thousands and ‘kill people’

12/18/2019 11:12 am ET Dara Brewton
A 'brazen attack':Trump wants to cut disability benefits for hundreds of thousands of people

Screenshot / YouTube

The Trump administration’s proposal to slash disability benefits has mostly been flying under the radar, but the new rule would strip hundreds of thousands of people of their coverage.

Executive director of Social Security Works Alex Lawson calls it a “brazen attack” by the Trump administration:

“Donald Trump and his advisers know that this will kill people, and they do not care.

Every current and future Social Security beneficiary must band together to defeat this horrific proposal or else all of our earned benefits will be next.”

The Current System

The current system classifies those on disability benefits into three different categories: Medical Improvement Not Expected, Medical Improvement Expected, and Medical Improvement Possible.

The more severe the medical condition the less often disability reviews are required.

The Trump Proposal

Trump’s proposed rule would add a new category to the list: Medical Improvement Likely. Recipients put into this category would be subject to disability reviews at two year intervals.

It is estimated that 4.4 million people would be shifted over to the new designation, “many of them children and so-called Step 5 recipients.”

A Step 5 recipient is defined as “typically 50 to 65 years of age, in poor health, without much education or many job skills [and] often suffer from maladies such as debilitating back pain, depression, a herniated disc, or schizophrenia.”

According to Jennifer Burdick, a supervising attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, reclassifying Step 5 recipients as “Medical Improvement Likely” would be a “radical departure from past practice.”

Representative Brendan Boyle (D-PA) is one of the few lawmakers to speak out about the proposal calling the changes “arbitrary” and saying it appears to be “concocted with no evidence or data to justify such consequential modifications.”

What Can Be Done

The Federal Register published the proposed rule last month, however, it has gotten very little media coverage.

But the public comment period has been extended by the Social Security Administration until January 31, 2020. Those wishing to make their voices heard can leave a formal comment.

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