White House weighing proposal to tighten eligibility for disability benefits

White House weighing proposal to tighten eligibility for disability benefits
© Getty Images

The Trump administration is working toward a plan that would tighten eligibility requirements for Americans to claim disability benefits, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The proposal by the Social Security Administration will narrow eligibility based on age, education and work experience. According to the documents and data collected by the Wall Street Journal, these factors determined eligibility for 500,000 people in 2017.

The move comes as part of a broader White House initiative to lower federal welfare spending.


The proposal seeks to address the major economic and demographic shifts that the country has experienced in the last few decades, as less people are employed at physically dangerous occupations like mining and factory work. Americans are also better educated and employed at retailers, hospitals and schools. 

The administration has also endorsed stricter rules for food stamp benefits and Medicaid, arguing they would draw more Americans into the labor force. 

Currently, people seeking disability benefits must be diagnosed with something on a list of impairments recognized by the agency. If they don’t meet that standard, age is the next qualification. Under the new rules, age will play a less significant role in deciding if somebody is eligible for benefits, according to the report. 

The SSA presented Congress with rule proposals that would increase the standard disability benefits last year.

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats adjust language on child tax credit in relief bill Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Biden nominee previews post-Trump trade agenda MORE (D-Mass.) sent a letter in December warning the Social Security Administration urging them to reconsider the rule they presented the committee. 

“We are concerned that under the proposed rule, some individuals subject to review will be simply unable to navigate the process and, as a result, lose their benefits even though there is no medical improvement,” the letter read. 

According to the Social Security Administration, over 8.5 million people receive disability benefits.