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Religious Leaders Come Together On Capitol Hill In Support Of Social Security Disability Insurance

-- Congressional Staff Briefed on Vital Program for Americans Unable to Work from Former SSDI Beneficiaries and Advocates --

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition gathered on Capitol Hill today to speak out in support of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits program. The program, an important lifeline for Americans unable to work due to illness or injury, has been under attack from critics. The two groups will dispel myths about the program being widely abused and wasteful and push to ensure that SSDI is not a victim of fiscal cliff negotiations.  

The briefing featured presentations from two former SSDI recipients who were able to return to full-time employment after suffering tragic accidents that rendered them unable to work.  The first, Donna Eshghi, a full-time nurse from Wichita, KS, contracted Hepatitis C after an unexpected needle prick at work. A single mother, she was able to use SSDI benefits to support her family until she was able to return to work.  And Deborah Krotenberg, an attorney from Atlanta, used SSDI benefits to keep herself afloat until she was able to return to work full-time after she was paralyzed in a serious car accident.

Kathy Ruffing, a Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, discussed her recent report: Social Security Disability Insurance is Vital to Workers With Severe Impairments.  Additionally, Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, closed the event with an interfaith prayer.

"As a nation, we need to be committed to ensuring that when Americans become unable to work due to illness or accident, there is a safety net," said Rabbi Steve Gutow, President and CEO of JCPA.  "SSDI is literally a lifeline for millions of Americans.  People who collect disability insurance have paid into the system and therefore it is critical that the benefits they have earned are available in their time of need.  Recent political attacks on SSDI are misguided at best. And now, as Congress and the President find ways to negotiate away from the fiscal cliff, we hope they will remember that SSDI is a critical program that must be protected."

Some key facts about SSDI:

  • According to the most recent government statistics, in October of 2012, there were 8.8 million Americans collecting SSDI.
  • There are record numbers of SSDI recipients now not because the government has made it easier to collect disability benefits, but rather because Baby Boomers are getting older and more prone to illness or injury, as well as a record number of women in the workplace.  In fact, Steve Goss, the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration recently testified about these trends before the United States Congress. 
  • By cutting funding to the Social Security Disability Insurance program, states and local communities will feel the brunt of the burden.
  • Denying or delaying benefits to disabled Americans leads to additional human suffering. They might have to file for bankruptcy or apply for welfare; some may end up in home foreclosure or be unable to get medical treatment without their SSDI benefits.
  • It's not easy to qualify for SSDI benefits. The qualifying standards have been raised and there are many diseases which no longer solely qualify claimants for benefits, like alcoholism, diabetes, drug abuse and obesity. 

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. For more information about JCPA, please visit: www.jewishpublicaffairs.org

SOURCE Jewish Council for Public Affairs

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