Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has gained a fair amount of attention in recent months, as the U.S. Congress finally begins to take notice of some serious problems that it and other Social Security benefit programs are facing. The general consensus is that the SSDI Trust Fund, from which the Social Security Administration (SSA) disburses disability benefit payments, will run out of money by the end of 2016. Without further action by Congress, this could result in cuts of up to 20 percent in benefit payments. SSDI beneficiaries and claimants, as well as the disability attorneys who advocate for their rights in Maine and elsewhere around the country, eagerly await some positive news on this issue.
Much of the attention Congressional leaders have given to the SSDI program, however, focuses on details like alleged fraud among some beneficiaries, rather than the bigger picture. Congress has held numerous hearings on the issue of beneficiaries who receive payments from both SSDI and federal or state unemployment insurance programs. Several bills currently pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate would limit people’s ability to receive benefits from both sources, despite valid reasons that they might do so.
SSDI versus Unemployment
Unemployment benefits are financed through payroll taxes collected by state and federal agencies, and they are administered by state agencies, such as the Maine Unemployment Insurance Program and the New Hampshire Employment Security program. These programs support people who are temporarily out of work while they look for a new job. Benefits are restricted to a relatively brief time period, usually six months or less.