Today, U.S. Senators Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the Reducing Overlapping Payments Act, which aims to protect the Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance programs by reducing overlapping benefits. The bill requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to suspend Disability Insurance (DI) benefits during any month in which a recipient also collects Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, while also ensuring the SAA has the necessary information to identify overlapping DI and UI payments. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in fiscal year 2010 over 117,000 individuals received more than $850 million in overlapping payments.
"The disability and unemployment insurance programs are vital and help scores of Mainers and Americans make ends meet, but both are financially stretched. Preserving those funds will allow us to keep resources intact for those who need it most," Senator King said. "The bipartisan Reducing Overlapping Payments Act takes a critical step toward protecting the solvency of these programs by closing a loophole that has enabled the inappropriate payment of overlapping benefits."
"In order to protect safety-net programs for those who truly need them most, Congress must act to reduce wasteful and overlapping payments," Dr. Coburn said. "Absent new legislation, there is no way to prevent beneficiaries from essentially double-dipping and receiving disability insurance while also obtaining unemployment insurance. The non-partisan GAO has said both programs face serious financial challenges, so I am pleased there is bipartisan support to close this loophole. The President also proposed closing this loophole in his most recent budget, and I look forward to working with him to implement his proposal."
"With our national debt exceeding $16.7 trillion and many of our essential benefits programs continuing on an unsustainable path, we must get rid of the waste, fraud and abuse in our system to make sure that those who need benefits will continue to receive them," Senator Manchin said. "This commonsense proposal strengthens our entitlement system by prioritizing our resources based on our values, while also keeping our promises to seniors."
"With the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund's projected depletion in 2016, it's unacceptable that thousands each year game the system by collecting benefits for two conflicting purposes," said Senator Flake. "Preventing the dual collection of disability insurance and unemployment insurance is a common-sense step toward bringing greater solvency to the disability insurance program which so many Americans truly in need depend on."