WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) today introduced legislation to remove a Social Security work disincentive for Americans with disabilities. The Work Without Worry Act would allow Americans with disabilities to work to their full potential without causing them to lose out on higher Social Security benefits.
“Government should encourage work. Americans with disabilities deserve the freedom to work, without, worry to secure their own financial future,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“All Americans who wish to work should be able to without disadvantaging themselves in the future,” said Senator Wyden. “Americans with disabilities and their families rely on Social Security’s earned benefits. This bill lets families know that working – not matter how long or at what level of earnings – will not mean their child with a disability will lose out on a higher Social Security benefit in the future.”
If an adult has a severe medical condition that began before age 22, they may be eligible for a Social Security benefit called the Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefit. Their benefits are based on their parent’s Social Security earnings, in the same way that benefits of a child under age 18 would be. However, under current law some of these young adults fear that if they try to work they will lose future DAC benefits, which are often higher than any benefit they may qualify on their own. This fear inhibits the ability of Americans with disabilities to explore their ability to work as they transition to adult life.
The Work Without Worry Act promotes financial security by ensuring that any earnings from work – no matter how much – will not prevent an individual from receiving a Social Security DAC benefit from their parent’s work history if they have an eligible medical condition that began before age 22. This bill treats all individuals with severe medical conditions that began before age 22 the same – no matter when their parents claim Social Security benefits. This change is estimated to increase Social Security benefits by $100 million and improve the lives of nearly 2,000 individuals with disabilities over the next 10 years.
Andrew Schlesinger, 40, from New Orleans, Louisiana, has spina bifida and is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although he has multiple college degrees, SSI prohibits him from having more $2000 in his bank account at any time. This prevents Mr. Schlesinger from accepting a good paying job in fear of losing this government assistance, which enables him to afford his medical bills.
Additional original co-sponsors include Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bob Casey (D-PA).