Assuming nothing surprising happens today, the so-called “sequester” budget will go into effect tomorrow. Sequestration was put into place specifically to be such a negative option that it would create an enormous incentive for Congress to pass a bipartisan budget by today. At the time, it was thought, anything would be better than sequestration. This last-choice alternative indiscriminately hacks away 10 percent of the budget for virtually all discretionary government programs — $85 billion in total.
Luckily for those who rely on these benefits for their everyday needs, the sequester expressly exempted Social Security disability (SSDI or SSI), Social Security retirement, Medicaid and Medicare, food stamps, and veterans disability benefits from cuts. Benefits for current SSD and other program beneficiaries will not be cut, and checks shouldn’t even be late.
The sequester did not exempt the entire Social Security Administration or healthcare providers who accept Medicaid and Medicare, however. Unfortunately, the SSA has discussed the possibility that the sequester will force it to furlough workers, reduce service hours or close offices. Doctors and health care facilities will start receiving 2 percent less in payments for Medicaid and Medicare services, which will make many of them decide not to participate any longer.
It’s not great news for people who have applied for Social Security disability but who haven’t yet been approved or denied. Since the sequester will force the Social Security Administration to cut or eliminate employee hours, the agency’s already massive backlog of applications will only grow.
For those who already receive Social Security disability benefits, nothing earth-shattering is likely to happen. For the large group of people who need those benefits and aren’t yet approved, however, sequestration could substantially add to the misery.
- AARP News, “What the ‘Sequester’ Could Mean for You,” Kim Keister, Feb. 19, 2013
- The Washington Post’s Wonkblog, “The sequester cuts in one graph,” Sarah Kliff, Sept. 14, 2012