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Marco Rubio Joins Conservatives to Reform Social Security Disability Benefits

March 16, 2017 - 1:00pm
Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee
Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., joined with two Senate conservatives on Wednesday to back a proposal reforming Social Security disability benefits. 

Noting that disability benefits are consuming more Social Security funds, Rubio and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, are co-sponsoring U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton’s, R-Ark., “Return to Work Act" which places new applicants who qualify for Social Security disability benefits in four groups based on whether medical improvement is expected, likely, possible or not expected. 

Beneficiaries in the first three groups would be given a timeline to receive disability benefits while those who are not expected to recover would not. If beneficiaries in the first three groups have not recovered at the end of their timelines--two years for those deemed expected to recover, five years for those deemed likely to recover, longer for those whose recovery is possible--they will be able to reapply for disability benefits. 

The senators noted a sharp rise in the costs of Social Security's Disability Insurance programs moving from “$20 to $137 billion (in 2012 dollars) since 1970" while fewer Americans in the programs have returned to work. In 1970, less than 1.5 million Americans were beneficiaries while currently there are almost 9 million beneficiaries. Despite more Americans enrolled in the program, fewer are returning to work. While almost 6 percent of Americans using those programs in 1982 returned to work, now it is less than one half of one percent. 

Rubio made his case for why the bill was needed, insisting there have been many problems with the programs in recent years. 

“Social Security Disability Insurance is supposed to be a safety net for people with disabilities,” Rubio said on Wednesday.  “However, rampant abuse, lax enforcement and insufficient accountability have enabled this program to grow unchecked and prevented many people from going back to work. The health of our national economy and strength of our communities depend on able-bodied Americans earning paychecks. This legislation represents a long overdue reform that takes care of working Americans and saves our social safety net for the truly disabled.”

“We shouldn’t resign people with treatable conditions to a lifetime of sitting on the sidelines. If they can get back to work, then by all means we should help them,” Cotton said. “That’s why we’ve got to fix this program so it takes into account people’s different capabilities. This will not only save the program, which is dangerously close to going bankrupt; It will save our aid for the people who need it most.”

“We can’t keep stealing from the Social Security Trust Fund to bail out the Social Security Disability Insurance system,” Lee said. “We need real reforms that will both make it easier for recovering Americans to return to work and make the program solvent.”

Cotton’s fellow Arkansas Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill brought out the House version of the bill. 


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No. They can get jobs. Look at Helen Keller, she was blind, deaf and dumb and she did alright. Look at Stephen Hawking, he is a complete paraplegic and he is a great scientist.

Also, under the Mental Disorders: Narcissism (being a jerk) and Antisocial Personality Disorder (being a criminal jerk) are grounds for free handouts. It happens, and it is BS.

I know a lady whose life ambition was to go on SSDI. Every year she'd call her mother (who is also on disability) and say, "X quarters left to go!" She applied for SSDI several times over several years, using a different diagnosis every time, before she was approved for Depression. She worked the bare minimum hours at the bare minimum wages to qualify, getting all the EIC, SNAP, Medicaid, Energy Assistance benefits along the way, while also embezzling money and merchandise from her employers, and frequently changing jobs due to poor attendance and theft. Since she earned the bare minimum, she does get the bare minimum SSDI benefit, but she knew she'd automatically qualify for all kinds of additional goodies. SSI, Section 8 Housing, SNAP, Medicaid, Energy Assistance, Free Cellphone. Most people wouldn't have time to invest in a scam like this, and couldn't afford to live or her income, but she is being supported by her boyfriend. She provides free childcare for his children, pays half the rent, and they share her benefits. Depression is curable, but she isn't required to get treatment because "Possible Justifications for Failing to Follow Treatment: You have a mental illness, and failure to follow treatment is a symptom of the disease." So she went on disability for life at the age of 35 and will collect far more than she paid in, and she is not accountable for anything.

Who will make the final determination as the rehab prospects of the disabled worker?

Great idea! Too many healthy frauds around. Rename SSDI to Common Welfare or reform it! it is shame to see what is going on. Yes, the frauds will fight hard (and their lawyers) for Welfare benefits from SSDI. They will try to shame anyone who raise the fraud concern in SSDI which massive. They will say that there are too many people with invisible disabilities. i would say too many with non-existing. I think that TRULY disabled must be in the first raw for SSDI reforms and restriction eliminating "life-long" expired disabilities for the majorities. True sick people will always have a chance to be re-qualified for benefits under any new laws, but frauds afraid losing their benefits.

Just remember that many of these increased numbers include hundreds of thousands of returning Veterans from several wars! Veterans who came back home not only physically injured, but psychology destroyed. The Vietnam era Vets never even got the help they truly needed and in subsequent wars, the gov't is barely doing much better addressing PTSD. So before you start throwing around a blanket term like 'fraud' why don't you do some research on the subject and the numbers. There are young men and women suffering in this country in record numbers from mental illness that are not in treatment and need, deserve our help! To make matters worse, if Republicans get their wish, mental health and drug addiction (another problem for our recovering Vets) will be stripped from Healthcare. Then where will our Veterans be? Homeless Frauds I guess?! It must be nice to be healthy, able to work and stand in harsh judgment of your fellow man.

The Trump budget increases the Veterans Administration budget so it's not nearly as heartless as people think. The way it is now a veteran can get both social security disability and VA benefits. Often if they are applying for social security disability they have alrrady been approved at 100% at the VA. So they would be double dipping if approved.

yes, i do not see a problem if "PTSD" drug addicts will become homeless. i think the Government should provide more support for "healthy" minimal wages low income people who ARE Working rather than "treating" their PTSD with drugs.

Go ahead Republicans we knew you were going down this path screw up disability just remember a couple of things you yourself can become disabled in a new york second bam stroke. That would cure your mindset quickly. I have a fix for the ss system get all of you republicans to give up your social security and medicare benifits. you hate the system but collect anyway such hypocrits,give it hell you have been waiting for this for a long time just remember there is a midterm election in two years and a presidential election in 4 years and anything you do will be quickly reversed just as it was after reagan.

having parkinsons which is a progressive debilitating disease will never get better. I had long term disability insurance from my job with Cigna. within 1 yr I got a letter telling me that I was no longer disabled according to their requirements. So according to them I was the first person in history to recover from parkinsons. I now have to take 3 pills every 3 hours to be able to even function enough to move about my home. So you can not even guess as to what this bill will consider parkinsons as being disabling. paid into SS over 40 yrs and have to worry each month weather or not some bill or threat of closing the government down because of posturing will put me on the streets without my medications.

It's about time that something was do to reduce the fraud used to receive Social Security Disability Benefits. It's also way past time to reduce the fraud used to receive welfare benefits and under both SSD and welfare, excuses not to find employment should never determine access to benefits.

I can see why you chose to only be "Anonymous" you coward. Go take your poor-hating trash talk back to WND or Infowars.

The SSA has three categories for CDR diary. Medical improvement Expected, Medical Improvement Possible, and Medical Improvement Not Expected. The only one who doesn't have to go to vocational rehabilitation is the MINE. The DDS medical consultant can recommend everyone else to vocational rehabilitation. While they wait for their appeal for a hearing, they must go to vocational rehabilitation. The ALJ could deny them for not going to vocational rehabilitation unless they prove that their case is classified as MINE.

I don't see how this would be a bad thing. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are trained to assist individuals with disabilities in obtaining employment opportunities that are within their limitations. If someone is truly able to work despite their disability - with accommodations in place - or able to recover, the VRC would likely be able to assist them in finding meaningful employment. And if they truly are too disabled to benefit from VR services or do any kind of competitive employment, this would be apparent in the VRC's reports. There are many people who, once awarded SSI or SSDI, are terrified to even attempt to go to work out of fear of losing their benefits, even though there are safeguards in place through the Ticket to Work and income allowances for many to work part time and still keep some benefits. A graduated system would hopefully address this pool of recipients who might well be able to work but have become reliant on a guaranteed income - even though it is at the poverty level.

You want to kick them off due to vocational rehabilitation. They can't ever get back on the disability roll because they have to go to vocational rehabilitation and back to work. If they reapply, then they will be technically denied for not going to vocational rehabilitation. People say the congressmen's idea is very stupid. If you make over a million people reapply each year, then you will have over a million cases added to the backlog cases each year. In three years the SSA would have over 5 million backlog cases.

One of the reasons that the numbers on SS disability have gone up is that Obama people hosted picnics across the country where they fed people and gave them instruction on how to get on the disability rolls...literally recruiting people for the disability program!

Thats crazy. I dont doubt you though because when I was in nevada the government actually advertised for more people to go on food stamps. Totally Nuts

Wow! THAT'S a new BS lie if I ever heard one. Got any proof (from a LEGIT news site. No WND/Infowars tabloid trash) to back up your accusation?

"A Disability Determination Services (DDS) staff physician is not a treating source. Similarly, a physician whose only relationship to the claimant is as a consulting examiner may not be considered a treating source. Therefore, where a consulting examiner's finds establish severity and for the first time indicate that specific treatment can be expected to restore ability to engage in any SGA (or gainful activity, as appropriate), the case should not be denied for failure to follow prescribed treatment. The DDS will refer such cases to the vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency for further action."(SSR 82-59 Failure to Follow Prescribed Treatment) Just have the DDS consultant examiner recommend vocational rehabilitation and refer them to vocational rehabilitation. They refuse to go to vocational rehabilitation without good cause, then it is a failure to follow prescribed treatment which is a Group II exception and they are automatically kicked off disability.

Visit a S.S. office and check the ages of the people applying.

So? What are you implying?

Social Security Benefits are NOT supposed to be an Entitlement Program. Social Security Benefits are taken out of Employees' Paychecks to be made available for them when they become Senior Citizens. At the same time, Employers also contribute to the Social Security Program by matching the Contributions made by the employee, up to a Specified Dollar Amount. Seniors deserve to get at least what they have put into Social Security. I went to a Town Hall when a Democrat, a Liberal from Illinois, responded when I asked the question, "Why is there NOT money available for Seniors who have Contributed Vast Amounts of Money into Social Security? He said, "Social Security Benefits go into a Trust." At which I said to a voter next to me, "I Trust Social Security Benefits won't be there for you or me!" Seniors do most of the Tax Paying in America, paying taxes for many years, and often, get little back from the Vast Contributions they make. Preserve Social Security, and make it Strong by Cutting Out Waste, Abuse, and MisUse of the Funds. The Same can be said for Medicare, BUT NOT MEDICAID! MEDICAID Use has been Abused, OverUsed, and MisUsed! Thank You Marco Rubio! God Bless You and YourFamilies. In God We Trust! With Sincere and Kind Regards, DoctorY, #DoctorYForCongress

Want to know how I know you've never been on Disability, or Medicare/Medicaid?

Ironic that the legislature used the term stealing from Social Security, when that is what they have been doing for years... I agree that this has basically turned into an entitlement program for out of work people with disabilities...

And what is your alternative for the disabled? Let them rot in the street & starve?

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