JDAM Spotlight on Unemployment Insurance

February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month and this post is part of a series highlighting different policy initiatives that affect people with disabilities.  

Last month as part of the continuing effort to extend federal unemployment insurance, Senate Democrats suggesting cutting unemployment insurance benefits for those who also receive Social Security Disability Insurance, suggesting that people with disabilities receiving both are “double dipping.”

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits for those who have worked at least one fourth of their adult life and have a documented disability. Those receiving the benefits are “insured,” meaning that by working at least one fourth of their adult life they have paid enough into the program to receive benefits. However, those on SSDI are encouraged to attempt to re-enter the labor force. For those that attempt this great feat after acquiring a disability, it can be difficult and frustrating. But even more difficult is getting fired through no fault of your own for attempting this great feat.

There is no reason those with disabilities who are fired through no fault of their own should no receive unemployment insurance. They have helped pay for both programs, they are now eligible for both programs, and they might have been counting on the extra income their job was providing. Neither of these programs are giving overly generous benefits and even with checks from both programs a person with a disability might still have trouble getting by.

While this idea seems stalled in the Senate, we need to remain alert for its reemergence. This potential cut occurred in President Obama’s FY14 budget, where he called it a “smart reform.” Our nation is in need of federal unemployment insurance and finding ways to reduce the deficit, but cutting benefits for people with disabilities attempting to rejoin the workforce is the wrong way to do it. Please take a moment and ask your Member of Congress to extend unemployment insurance without hurting those with disabilities.

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Howie Levine

About Howie Levine

Howie Levine is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is originally from St. Paul, MN where he is a member of Mt. Zion Temple. He recently graduated from Tufts University.


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    […] JDAM Spotlight on Unemployment Insurance […]

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