SINCE coming into office back in early 1981, the Reagan administration has removed over 450,000 persons from the government's social security disability rosters. Under the disability program, enacted in 1956, 3.9 million Americans receive monthly cash benefits when they are unable to work because of physical or mental impairments.
Some officials within the White House have urged a hold on further cuts within the disability program.
The administration argues that its tough program - reviewing records of claimants and actually cutting off benefits for persons deemed able to work - stems from a 1980 law designed to verify eligibility and reduce outlays. Such verification was long overdue in the transfer program, which costs taxpayers over $18 billion annually.
The upshot of the tough disability review and cutoffs, however, has been to snarl the program in a heated political conflict that has involved the courts, the White House, and Congress. While there has been a legitimate need to pinpoint those individuals who would abuse the intent of the disability program, it would now seem wise to draw a halt for the time being, and consolidate the work that has already been done.
A hold on further cuts is a logical first step. In many states, the disability program is now operating under federal court order. In other states, governors have stepped in to halt disability cutoffs, arguing that terminations have often discriminated against individuals who should have received benefits.
Significantly, of the 450,000 persons terminated from the program, 280,000 have either had benefits restored or are seeking a reinstatement of benefits.
Surely, no individual should be cut off from social-security disability checks if genuinely entitled to benefits.