Portman Offers Amendment to Prevent Duplicative Spending By Ending Double-Dipping between Unemployment & Disability Benefits

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today offered an amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Extension bill (S. 1845) that would prevent duplicative spending by ending the ability for people to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) while also receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).  SSDI is intended to assist those whose medical issues render them unable to engage in significant work activities, while UI and TAA are intended to help those who have lost jobs and are available for work.  Under current law, however, a person receiving UI or TAA benefits, meant for those likely to rejoin the workforce, can also receive SSDI benefits, intended to help all those deemed unable to work.  By eliminating this double-dipping between disability benefits and unemployment or trade adjustment benefits, Portman’s amendment will ensure that SSDI funds are going to those who truly need them and will save $5.4 billion that can help pay for a three month extension of UI benefits.

“Washington’s reckless pattern of throwing money at our nation’s economic problems has failed to get people back to work, sustaining high levels of unemployment. If we extend unemployment insurance, we should not forget that we are doing so to provide temporary relief to all those who are hurting due to a lack of pro-growth policies, and we should not kid ourselves into believing that this extension will solve our economic problems or will pay for itself. Each time we increase spending without paying for it, we are adding to our nation’s soaring debt and placing an unfair burden on our kids and our grandkids.  But it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Portman.  “My amendment would allow us to extend unemployment insurance while also paying for it.  This commonsense measure will ensure that each program’s benefits are better targeted to the intended recipients.  By eliminating this loophole, we can take a page from the President’s own budget proposal to save money.”

According to a recent GAO report, in fiscal year 2010, at least 117,000 people simultaneously collected UI and DI benefits totaling $850 million annually, despite the programs being intended for different populations.  These individuals are thus receiving duplicative benefits.

In President Obama’s FY14 Budget, he proposed reducing the SSDI benefit in any month UI benefits are also received, in order to eliminate the concurrent benefit payment.

A summary of Portman’s Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Amendment is below:

• Effective after December 2014, those receiving UI or TAA benefits would be considered as participating in substantial gainful activity and thus not be eligible for SSDI benefits.
• For current beneficiaries, any month during which unemployment benefits are received will count as a Trial Work Period month. The Trial Work Period allows SSDI beneficiaries to test their ability to work for 9 months without fear of losing benefits.
• 10-year savings according to CBO preliminary estimate: $5.4 billion.

Read the full bill text here.