On May 23, the Trump administration released its proposed 4.1 trillion federal budget, which boosts defense, border and infrastructure spending while making large cuts to a number of programs and services that would directly affect the millions of Americans living with a disability.The proposed budget includes $72 billion in cuts directly targeting Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. There are $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid, on top of the $839 billion in cuts already proposed with the American Healthcare Act, currently under deliberation in the Senate. More cuts target affordable housing programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which are both used by significant numbers of people with disabilities. In addition, the Amputee Coalition Limb Loss Resource Center and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center would both lose their federal funding entirely.
Trump made campaign promises not to cut Social Security, and the administration claims that this budget “does not cut core Social Security benefits.” In an interview with NBC, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that SSDI “is not what most people would consider to be Social Security.” Mulvaney has argued that the reduced spending on SSDI would come through stricter review of SSDI applications and encouraging work for SSDI recipients.
Alexandra Bennewith, vice president of government relations for United Spinal Association says there is “a big misconception” in regards to SSDI abuse. “The Social Security Act’s disability standard is one of the strictest in the world,” she says. “Most applicants for Social Security disability benefits are denied. Fewer than four in 10 SSDI applications are approved, even after all stages of appeal.” Bennewith says that the proposed budget “is devastating to millions of disabled Americans.”
Kelly Buckland, the executive director for the National Council on Independent Living was scathing in his criticism of the budget. “The president’s budget proposal is irresponsible and would be detrimental to many of the programs and services people with disabilities rely on,” Buckland says. “The programs that support our health, well-being, and independence have been targeted, with proposed funding for these programs being brought to unrealistic and dangerously low levels. If enacted, hundreds of Centers for Independent Living may be forced to close, and people around the country will die from the cuts to Medicaid. The results of this budget would be disastrous.”
The budget process now moves to Congress, which has final authority over federal spending.
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