2020 was the most impactful year in many of our lives for many different reasons. Not only did we navigate through a global pandemic and loss, but we also had a contentious election that resulted in the Biden Administration taking over in 2021. Part of the Biden platform was revamping the disability policies of the United States. While the focus of the administration has been on vaccinations and pandemic-related recovery, you can expect disability changes to come shortly, and many people are wondering what that might mean for them.
Increasing the Social Security Budget
One of the main focuses of the plan is to implement reforms to the Social Security disability program. Benefits claims have piled up, and the backlog is depriving many disabled Americans of the benefits they need. This results in critical financial need for many people who cannot work, and right now, it might take two years from the time someone applies for benefits to even receive a date for a hearing. That is two years that applicants are struggling to make ends meet.
The Biden Administration’s plan involves budgeting more funds for the Social Security Administration (SSA). Currently, the SSA is understaffed and, therefore, overworked due to underfunding. This is because the SSA budget was previously cut while the number of disability applications was going up. A new budget increase will help to hire new people to process applications and lessen claim processing times.
Equality for Disabled Americans
President Biden has also expressed his goal to ensure that all disabled individuals in the United States have equal treatment. This goal is more complex than simply giving the SSA more money, and it involves increasing access to affordable and high-quality healthcare.
In addition, the Administration wants to increase opportunities for competitive jobs for disabled individuals, as well as educational and occupational programs for students with disabilities to help them reach employment goals as adults.
Some additional components of the Biden disability reform plan include:
- Appointing someone to serve as the director of disability policy for the Domestic Policy Council, which would help to make sure that policy issues are not ignored in broader government policy discussions.
- Reversing orders executed by the Trump Administration in 2020 that impact SSI and SSDI funding, including payroll tax deferrals.
- Stating that this administration would not reduce the SSI and SSDI programs and, instead, expand the programs to ensure that all Americans with disabilities can rely on the benefits they need.
- Addressing how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted individuals with disabilities and determining how to protect this community from increased infection and mortality rates, especially in care facilities.
While change might be incremental, there is hope that benefits claims and other aspects of disability policy in the United States will head in the right direction during the Biden Administration. If you need assistance with disability benefits or any other related matter, you should not hesitate to contact a disability attorney near you for assistance. The right legal representation can help the benefit claims process go much smoother in many cases.