U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, today announced the fifth hearing in the series entitled "Securing the Future of the Disability Insurance (DI) Program." This hearing will focus on key challenges facing the DI program and options to address those challenges. The hearing will take place on Friday, September 14, 2012, in room B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Subcommittee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
The Subcommittee's hearing series has explored the challenges facing the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program, including the findings of the 2012 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees that DI revenues will cover only 79 percent of benefits beginning in 2016 due to the aging of the baby boomer workforce into their most-disability prone-years, the increased number of women in the workforce now eligible for benefits should they become severely disabled, decisions made by Congress regarding the financing of the DI Trust Fund and the eligibility criteria for benefits, and the recent economic downturn. The Congressional Budget Office projects that as a result of the recent recession and slow recovery, the number of disabled workers will continue to rise over the next few years.
The Social Security Subcommittee began its five-part series examining the DI program in 2011. The series' first hearing provided an overview of the program, its history, the importance of its benefits, the growth of the program and the drivers of that growth along with the program's current and future financing challenges. The second hearing focused on the Social Security Administration's program integrity efforts to minimize improper payments and protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse. The third hearing examined how disability eligibility decisions are made, including the definition of disability and the Federal-State relationship. The fourth hearing considered the Social Security appeals process including its history, legal requirements, and whether the current process provides fair, accurate, and consistent outcomes while balancing the needs of claimants and taxpayers.
In the hearing series, many questions have been raised about the current DI program. These include: is the concept of disability that prevailed at the start of the program in 1956 still appropriate today given advances in medicine, rehabilitation, and the workplace? Are there ways to better support individuals with disabilities to stay in the workplace? Can the decision-making process be strengthened so that, when appropriate, awards are made as early as possible and decisions on applications and appeals are made with greater accuracy and consistency?
Increasingly, experts are researching these questions and developing proposed solutions. Employers are also finding new ways to retain in the workforce those individuals with disabilities who want to work. The imminent fiscal challenge facing the DI program has made discussion of these issues both relevant and timely for the final hearing of this series.
In announcing the hearing, Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) said, "We must and we will secure the future of this essential program for the millions of Americans who count on benefits. As we look at options to keep that promise, we must balance the needs of those with disabilities with the needs of workers who support the program. Striking that important balance will result in a program that makes the right decision as soon as possible, supports work, prevents fraud, and treats all workers fairly."
FOCUS OF THE HEARING
The hearing will focus on options to address the key structural and fiscal challenges facing the disability program.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov, select "Hearings." Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, "Click here to provide a submission for the record." Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by the close of business on Friday, September 28, 2012. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word or WordPerfect format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/