Senior Policy Analyst
President Trump’s 2019 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 — by cutting $72 billion over ten years from disability programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). And it would compound the hit for those with disabilities by also severely cutting Medicaid, food assistance, and housing vouchers. President Trump proposed these harmful cuts less than two months after signing into law massive tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit those at the top.
Here are the details:
The President repeatedly promised not to cut Social Security, but his budget cuts tens of billions from Social Security’s disability benefits. It would halve retroactive benefits that disabled workers may receive — hurting, for example, a worker who’s hurt in a car crash and applies for benefits after struggling to return to work. Under current law, she can receive up to 12 months of retroactive benefits, but the Trump proposal would cut them to no more than six. A beneficiary who would have qualified for 12 months of retroactive benefits — a critical lifeline that can prevent bankruptcy or homelessness — could lose about $7,000 in earned Social Security benefits.
The budget would cut nearly $7 billion from SSI over ten years by reducing benefits for families in which more than one member qualifies for SSI — hurting, for example, a family with children who share a genetic disorder. Last year, both the Trump budget and House Republicans proposed a similar plan, targeting some of America’s most vulnerable children and their families. Some 70 percent of poor families caring for more than one child with disabilities already struggle to meet basic needs, and these cuts would 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 — not dramatically less — Medicaid spending for things like the long-term services and supports that many people with disabilities need to work. Slashing vital supports only makes it harder for people with severe illnesses and injuries to get back on their feet.
Disability can happen to anyone — especially those of 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.