[Ohio-talk] Legislative Alert and Call to action

Eric Duffy peduffy63 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 29 14:31:14 UTC 2015

This comes from our Governmental Affairs Team.

Please email Barbara Pierce with questions or to report results. 
barbarapierce9366 at gmail.com <mailto:barbarapierce9366 at gmail.com>

You may also call her at (440) 774-8077.

Please act immediately.

Dear Colleagues:
As you know, a budget deal between the White House and the outgoing Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was reached earlier this week. The bill, which passed the House last evening by a vote of 266 to 167, includes provisions which will impact the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.  The National Federation of the Blind does not have a position on the bill as a whole, but we definitely have feelings about those parts of the bill dealing with SSDI issues.
If no action is taken, the SSDI Trust Fund will be insolvent by December of 2016, resulting in a 20 percent across-the-board cut in benefits. This legislation would guarantee the solvency of the SSDI Trust Fund through 2022. We find this aspect of the bill to be extremely helpful.
SSDI Provisions
As part of a demonstration project, the Social Security Administration will select a subgroup (the size of the subgroup is not prescribed in the legislation) from among all SSDI beneficiaries to participate in a benefit offset earnings test. The demonstration project is strictly voluntary. Participants in this voluntary demonstration project would not be subject to the $1,820 earnings limit, but rather to a $2-for-$1 phase-out of benefits. This is what we have been asking for, but here’s the rub—the phase-out will start at $810 and will be based upon Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE) under this legislation. If you claim IRWE totaling $810 or less, your benefit offset would start at $810. On the other hand, if you claim between $811 and $1,820 in IRWE, your $2-for-$1 phase-out of benefits will start at your IRWE amount.
Call to Action
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (H.R.1314) is now headed to the Senate. Please call your senators today, either directly to their offices, or through the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask them to support two edits (which might be thought of as technical amendments) to the SSDI provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
1.     Amend Section 822 so that SSDI beneficiaries can participate in the demonstration project upon request.
2.     Amend Section 823 by replacing all references to the term “Impairment Related Work Expenses” for blind beneficiaries with the term “Blind Work Expenses,” which are broader, more favorable, and are already available in the SSI program.

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