Crisis was averted last week when President Obama and Congress agreed to cut $39 billion in the federal budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. President Obama also laid out an outline of how to decrease the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years, which included ending the Bush tax cuts to incomes above $250,000 and reforming social security.
According to the Social Security Administration website, 54 million Americans will receive $730 billion in Social Security benefits and of those 54 million Americans, 8 million are disabled and in 2010, received $8.8 billion with an average of $1,068 in month benefits. Considering that there is expected to be almost twice as many elderly Americans in 2041 as there are now, talk of reforming Medicare and Medicaid might be worrisome to the public, but it is only logical.
In the last five years there has been a steady increase of applications for social security disability. President Obama has stated that he does not want to make any immediate changes to social security since the program is not a major contributor to the deficit, however, if he were to make changes to Medicare then the value in Social Security Disability for obtaining Medicare has to be looked into.
Republicans are against increasing taxes for the rich, and some such as Rand Paul of Kentucky, are putting forward an alternative. His Social Security Solvency Sustainability Act would gradually increase the retirement age to 70 by 2032. Right now, Medicare is for people aged 65 years and older, but people younger than 65 with disabilities or permanent kidney failure can also qualify for Medicare. If you are under the age of 65 then you are eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance if you have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. If the retirement age is increased then the resulting affect on Medicare could be a change in policy where elderly citizens don’t receive their full Medicare benefits until the age of 70 and those under 70 could possibly have to wait longer to receive their Medicare benefits as well.
Political, social, and financial reforms are all apart of life, as nothing remains constant forever. If any changes are to be made towards Medicare then it requires serious consideration of the effects that it could have on those that rely on Medicare to survive. Ample portions of my clients are those that are either on or fighting for Social Security disability benefits in order to receive Medicare. If Medicare, for whatever reason, were to be altered in a way that it made difficult to receive treatment then it would not only hurt the patient, but also the doctors that treat the patient and the government.
Hypothetically, say I had a 42 year-old construction worker who got hurt on the job and needed to be put on Social Security disability in order to sustain a living. He receives his monthly disability check, but because of recent changes to Medicare, he is unable to get the treatment he needs to recover completely and return to work. Without Medicare he will not be able to work at the level he did before, which means he will make less money to treat his persisting pain. Doctor’s visits and treatments could go unpaid all the while, diminishing his role as an active member of the human society.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, as some practices to save money are being put into form. The Social Security Administration is now sending all files electronically to the attorneys at the Coye Law Firm, which helps save money on stamps, paper, and envelopes. Attorneys at the Coye Law Firm have also been selected as a test site for holding hearings with the Social Security Administration through teleconferencing, which will help save money on gas and future wear and tear on a car that comes with driving back and forth to hearings.
The discussions of revamping Medicare is likely a topic that will be reproached for years to come on Capitol Hill, but the impact that a change could have on its existing and future members must be at the forefront of the negotiations.