We’ve been hearing from clients, both current and former, about the proposed changes to Social Security – and what we are hearing is fear. Our clients have been found too disabled to work under very stringent definitions of disability, but are now hearing that their already strained incomes may be cut – or taken away entirely.
They are scared.
And they are looking to us for assurances – assurances that, unfortunately, we cannot give.
We cannot promise our clients that their benefits won’t be cut.
We cannot promise our clients that their Medicare won’t be further compromised – that even fewer doctors will accept it, that fewer procedures will be covered, that the medications they need to survive and function won’t drop off the allowed formulary, that block grants will limit how much treatment they can receive in a given time frame, regardless of need or urgency.
All we can do is tell them what we do know – and, more importantly, we can remind them that they have a voice.
Please feel free to share our note with your clients or friends. Modify it to suit your needs and jurisdiction. And, please, think about our clients: when you vote, and when you voice your concerns to your legislators.
First of all, no changes to Social Security have been made yet. Many things are being proposed, but budgets are subject to numerous changes before they are approved, and even once approved, they are subject to additional changes as they are implemented. And implementation doesn’t usually happen overnight – it takes place over years.
It’s true that cuts to Social Security Disability, Medicaid, and Medicare are all being discussed. However – cuts to these programs have been discussed every budget cycle for the past several decades! But nothing has actually happened yet.
At this time, we recommend that people:
- Pay attention. You’re right that some changes are being talked about – be aware of what, and how that might affect you.
- CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS. This is the most important thing! Whether your Senators and Congressional Representative share your party or not, they are still responsible for YOU as their constituent. Tell them that you rely on these programs, and how you would be affected by any changes. Tell them by whatever means you can: call, email, write, show up in person if at all possible. As we have seen on several recent legislative proposals, even deeply party-line legislators can be convinced to vote down proposals that their constituents have made clear are not in their best interests.
- Don’t panic. Yes, these changes can sound scary – but remember, nothing has actually happened yet. It’s not a bad idea to make some contingency plans – could you reduce your living expenses? Can you start saving a little bit each month, to have a cushion against potential future needs? Are there any opportunities for you, within your limitations, to bring in some bit of income, just in case? – but beyond that, anything is just speculation. Panic makes it harder to advocate for what we need, so try to keep unproductive dwelling on “what if” to a minimum!
- PLAN TO VOTE, in every single upcoming election. Watch what the politicians and candidates DO, not what they say! If they have voted to cut your benefits, they are not really looking out for you, and we all need representatives that truly work FOR us – not against us!
If you are receiving combined benefits through both Social Security and Workers’ Compensation, any changes to the Disability program will be at least somewhat mitigated, as your Workers’ Compensation benefits should increase to offset at least some of the loss in Social Security income, up to your maximum time-loss benefit. The possible impact on your Medicare is much harder to predict – we can’t say what will happen, when nothing has yet passed!
Our firm does not handle Social Security cases, and does not plan to do so. However, we are in close contact with our colleagues who still do, and we still participate in advocacy work for these programs, as we are aware of the need our clients have for them. Should changes take place that will affect our Workers’ Compensation clients, we will review the impacts and keep in touch.
Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard via Foter.com / CC BY