Society Joins Disability Community in Concerns about House Rule Impacting Disability Benefits
January 20, 2015
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has joined nearly fifty other disability organizations in a letter to House leadership
and all members of the U.S. House of Representatives voicing our concerns about a rule recently passed by that chamber. The rule prevents funds from being moved between the Old-Age and Survivor’s Insurance fund (OASI) and the Social Security Disability Insurance fund (SSDI). There is only one narrow exception, allowing reallocation when doing so would increase the long-term health of both funds. It has been known that the SSDI fund will have to be replenished by 2016, largely due to long-term demographic trends including an aging workforce now in its disability-prone years and an increase in the number of working women who can qualify for SSDI. In creating barriers to reallocating funds, the House rule creates a greater likelihood of an approximate 20% reduction in disability benefits in 2016. Because of the unpredictable nature and sometimes serious impairment caused by the disease, the Social Security Administration recognizes MS as a chronic illness or “impairment” that can cause disability severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Nearly 40% of people with MS rely on SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for basic necessities and day-to-day living, so any negative impact to SSDI could have serious consequences for people with MS and their families. In addition to expressing concern about the rule itself and its potential impact on vulnerable individuals relying on SSDI, organizations signing the letter including the Society expressed dismay that the rule was passed without public dialogue or opportunity for constituent input.
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed
between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.