Panel Recommends Financial Incentives to Help Disabled Workers Return to Work

Study on the role of health care in disability policy

The National Academy of Social Insurance, Washington, made recommendations to improve the nation's Social Security disability benefit programs in a 1993–1996 project.

The organization was asked to undertake this review by Dan Rostenkowski, Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives and Andy Jacobs, Jr., Chairman of its Sub-Committee on Social Security.

In March 1993, the National Academy of Social Insurance convened a disability policy panel that provided answers to three questions:

  • Do disability cash benefits provide a strong deterrent to work?
  • Can an emphasis on rehabilitation be built into the Social Security System without greatly expanding costs or weakening the right to benefits?
  • Are there ways to restructure disability income policy to better promote work?

Key Recommendations

The panel's key findings and recommendations were:

  • Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income disability programs have a strict and frugal design and are themselves not a disincentive to make the transition to employment.
  • The lack of affordable health insurance, which is available through Medicaid or Medicare when someone is enrolled in Supplemental Security Income or disability insurance is a significant barrier.
  • The lack of affordable health insurance, which is available through Medicaid or Medicare when someone is enrolled in Supplemental Security Income or disability insurance is a significant barrier.
  • Medicare coverage should be made more affordable and secure for disability insurance beneficiaries who leave the rolls to work and suggested states adopt similar arrangements with Medicaid.
  • There should be a new approach of linking beneficiaries with rehabilitation services through a "return to work ticket" that beneficiaries could use to shop among providers of rehabilitation or return to work services from either public or private providers.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) partially supported the project with a grant of $195,260.

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