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High Healthcare Costs for Social Security Disability Recipients

Posted on Feb 08, 2014

Recent growth in out-of-pocket healthcare costs has left people on fixed incomes, such as seniors and Social Security disability recipients, with high healthcare payments eating away at their already low monthly checks.

A new analysis by Social Security Works found that co-pays, deductibles, and other services have risen in price by 34 percent over the last two decades. However, for the vast majority of people living on modest incomes, including those living on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the cost-of-living adjustment has been smaller than this increase, costing recipients more in healthcare costs.

On average, SSDI recipients receive just under $30,000. Studies show that approximately one third of that income goes toward expensive healthcare costs. Although Social Security systems are designed to give people with disabilities the money they need for economic security, the system has failed to take into account their high out-of-pocket expenses that continue to increase.

Now, new proposals are threatening to cut even more from Social Security disability recipients, making it even more difficult to afford the healthcare needed. Although Social Security benefits were not intended to go toward medical bills, more people are forced to use their benefits checks to cover these costs.

According to recent reports, the high costs come from an inefficient healthcare provision. In fact, Americans spend twice as much as those in similar countries to receive worse treatment and poorer outcomes.

As more people on Social Security disability face high healthcare costs, it is the responsibility of the nation’s policymakers to improve the efficiency of the health care system. Policy makers should also avoid cutting valuable benefits that disability recipients are using to pay for their healthcare needs.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law