Cuts to SSDI Proposed to Pay for Highway Trust Fund

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee took up legislation to address a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, the Preserving American’s Transit and Highways Act (PATH Act). Senator John Thune (R-SD), along with Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), introduced two amendments to partially pay for the bill by cutting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for people who also receive Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) also co-sponsored one of the amendments. These amendments are similar to proposals introduced in the Senate last January as part of its consideration of extending emergency UI benefits. The Finance Committee recessed last Thursday without completing its markup, and is expected to return next week to resume consideration of the bill. Senator Thune stated during last week’s Committee markup that he may continue to offer his amendments. The Arc strongly opposes cuts to SSDI benefits, including cuts to concurrent SSDI and UI benefits.  As noted in a January 2014 letter from The Arc and other members of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, SSDI and UI are separate programs established for different purposes; receipt of concurrent benefits, while rare, is both legal and appropriate. Cutting these benefits would harm the economic security of SSDI beneficiaries and their families, single out SSDI beneficiaries and treat them differently from other workers under the UI program, create disincentives to work for SSDI beneficiaries, and cut Social Security to pay for an unrelated program. The Arc strongly opposes these amendments and is urging the Senate Finance Committee to reject these harmful SSDI benefit cuts.