Senior Policy Analyst
Update, May 25: We have revised this post to include the proposed annual cut to SSI.
President Trump’s 2018 budget would make it harder for millions of people with disabilities to afford the basics — food on the table, a roof over their heads, and access to health care. It cuts $72 billion over ten years from disability programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). And it would gut Medicaid, food assistance, and housing vouchers, compounding the hit to people with disabilities.
Here are the details:
The budget cuts tens of billions from Social Security’s disability benefits. One proposal would halve retroactive benefits that disabled workers may receive — hurting, for example, a worker whose career is cut short by a car crash and who applies for benefits after struggling to return to work. Under current law, she can receive up to 12 months of retroactive benefits — a critical lifeline that can prevent bankruptcy or homelessness — but the Trump proposal would cut that payment in half. A beneficiary who would have qualified for 12 months of retroactive benefits could lose about $7,000 in earned Social Security benefits.
One proposal in the budget would cut nearly $1 billion a year from SSI. It would cut benefits for the 1.4 million SSI recipients who live in households where more than one family member has a disability — hurting, for example, a family with children who share a genetic disorder. Some 70 percent of poor families caring for more than one child with disabilities already struggle to meet basic needs, and these cuts will make their lives even harder.
Enabling people with disabilities to work to their full potential would likely cost, not save, money. For example, it would mean more Medicaid spending for things like the long-term services and supports that many people with disabilities need to work — not dramatically less. Slashing vital supports only makes it harder for people facing severe illnesses and injuries to get back on their feet.
Disability can happen to anyone — especially with advancing age. Serious illnesses or injuries push many people — including families caring for children with disabilities — into poverty, and many more struggle to afford basic needs. The President’s budget will make it much harder for people with disabilities to get by, even as he calls for extremely large tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations.