|Targeted News Service|
Today, the Committee takes a fresh look at
On a bipartisan basis,
Today's hearing is about the realities of an evolving program that reflects changing demographics as well as the challenges of the current economy. As this committee contemplates the future of SSDI, as well as the rights of individuals with disabilities more broadly, it should:
* Address inequities that exist for women in both the workplace and in retirement.
* Create better tools for managing chronic illness and coordinating care.
* Provide adequate agency funding to manage the program, including resources aimed at targeting unscrupulous doctors and lawyers.
* Prioritize access to comprehensive mental health care at every age.
* Encourage greater job creation for individuals with disabilities by employers.
Fortunately, there's a great deal of information about this critical program that will help to sustain it over the long-term.
First, the growth in SSDI over the last 20 years has been due to factors
Just last week, during a hearing looking at chronic illnesses, the
But in her late 20s, Stephanie was diagnosed with a hereditary heart disease. The quadruple bypass surgery she had at age 30 was just the first of several operations she's undergone to place 27 stents in her arteries. In addition to heart disease, she now suffers the disabling effects of Lupus, arthritis, and a seizure disorder. Stephanie has to take 19 different prescription drugs every day. She had a mountain of prescription bottles stacked up on a tray when she came before the committee. This illness has cost Stephanie her home, her independence and her family.
She wants to work but can't due to her chronic illnesses. However, because she'd worked and earned the benefit, Stephanie was able to use her
Stephanie isn't alone - women now make up nearly half of the 9 million workers enrolled in SSDI. And, SSDI supports about 1 million veterans.
Second, let's recognize that
For workers receiving
Third, we know that it's critically important to make sure disability benefits are going to those who need them. Unfortunately, that's not always easy. A small number of bad apples, like unscrupulous doctors and lawyers, will always be willing to commit fraud. But according to the
Let's not make budgetary changes at the
Finally, we know we have to act by 2016 to shore up the
I look forward to engaging in an active dialogue with colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we take a fresh look at the SSDI program and work toward long-term solutions that keep the promise of
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