Proposed budget cuts for social disability benefits have been put forward with a lot more frequency in the past year. This has created much tension and uncertainty for those who will be directly affected should these proposals be passed into law.
One of the latest proposals involving budget cuts could possibly affect unemployability benefit. In essence, this benefit caters to individuals who could technically no longer be a part of the workforce. Senior vets, for example, fit the unemployability profile based on their age and physical capabilities. Recently, however, no less than the Veterans Affairs Secretary himself has declared before the House panel in summer that unemployment for capable 80-year-olds “makes no sense.” As such, he indicated that it could be possible to cut the budget for the individual unemployment (IU) benefit.
The IU benefit, is a compensation program run by the Veterans Affairs that provide compensation to vets at a 100% rate, without prejudice to the rating of their service-connected disabilities. Various sectors have reacted to this proposal, citing the severe difficulties that unemployed vets go through on a daily basis. Apart from their physical difficulties, some of them suffer mental anguish, depression and emotional instability. Should this cut to their disability benefit push through, it should be no surprise if the rate of depression–and even suicide–rise.
The eligibility for IU requires a veteran to at least have one disability that was a result of or is connected to the service they provided. According to the metrics (using a scale of 0 to 100 in terms of incapacity), a lone injury should at least rate 60% or higher, while multiple injuries should total 70% or more, with at least one of these injuries having a rating of 40%. The VA also believes that the agency could save as much as US$3.2 million by 2018 if seniors who become eligible for social security are declared as ineligible for IU. Veterans who could not collect from social security could be exempted from the effects of the proposed budget cuts. As to how this will affect the eligibility for social security disability as well as for the VA, it can only be surmised that the window may become a lot smaller for applicants.
A Lack in the System
It’s not just the veterans that have to worry about their benefits, but other professionals too, like teachers. According to the National Association State Retirement Administrators, 40% of public school teachers do not have access to social security benefits. Teachers, in general, are not covered by social security benefits because of the Windfall Elimination Provision. This basically prevents any local or state public employee from being eligible to collect a pension alongside Social Security benefits. In other words, something will inevitably have to give in this system, and for most public school teachers, they would much rather choose pension over benefits. Those who did have social security benefits, probably on account of their application prior to their public service, can expect deductions to their contributions to the system. A special calculation will have to be applied for this, but you can look forward to a smaller cut if you can show that you’ve had “substantial earnings” in the past 21 years. This is the situation people looking forward to earning social security disability benefits, as well as other types of benefits to help them get through the cost of their daily living have to face. For sure, many people will also need to be informed and guided should any of the planned changes for the eligibility push through. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities can help make things a lot easier for folks who would be affected by informing them of any adjustments they would have to make if necessary. Enlisting the aid of companies who can provide SSI/SSDI eligibility assistance to their patients will also be a great help. Sources: VA Considers to Cut Unemployability Benefit. DCourier.com. Teachers: Here’s How to Ace Retirement Without Social Security. USAToday.com.