SSDI and SSI Programs
Allen Jensen and Robert “Bobby” Silverstein recently proposed policies for improving SSDI work incentives (e.g., addressing the cash cliff). Policies for updating and improving SSI and Medicaid work incentives are also proposed. These proposals are the product of a research project funded by the Social Security Administration (SSA) through a sub-award from the Disability Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Additional funding was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In a nutshell, the proposals provide SSDI beneficiaries with an informed choice (which entails tradeoffs) between current SSDI policy (which includes the cash cliff) and an alternative, which includes a $1 for $2 gradual reduction in benefits after an initial earned income disregard of one-half of the dollar value of the monthly Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level and continued attachment to the SSDI program when benefits are reduced to zero as long as the individual’s severe impairments continue. The proposals also encourage work for both the SSDI and SSI populations by making the programs’ work incentives similar and thus easier to understand and utilize. In addition, the project team suggests related policies for enhancing SSI, Section 1619, and Medicaid work incentives. Finally, the project team developed a framework for conducting cost estimates of an SSDI policy which entails a $1 for $2 gradual reduction of benefits as earnings increase.