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Congress must modernize the federal government’s primary program to assist the disabled to, “reflect the full ability of the disabled to contribute their talents to our country,” according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi.

Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, held a hearing today to address the looming threat of bankruptcy facing the Social Security Disability Trust Fund.

“Let me put this as clearly as possible, no waffle words, no Washington word games: by December of next year, the program will be broke.  And once broke, the law governing the program means that benefits for the disabled must be cut, or delayed,” said Enzi.  “That’s just rotten.” 

The Social Security Trustees have warned that the Disability Insurance trust fund will be insolvent by late 2016. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the program will need $352 billion over the next 10 years in order to fully pay disability claims. In Wyoming, that would mean that 13,900 disabled people would lose $3 million in benefits.

Enzi emphasized that the program has not kept up with the times and does not take into account the tremendous contribution people can make even after undergoing severe hardship.

Enzi noted that the Disability Insurance program assumes that once people are disabled, they can’t work, and if they do, they usually lose their benefits. According to Enzi, though that might have made sense in the 1950s when the program was started, thanks to technology, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the expansion of the service and knowledge economy, it’s easier for those with disabilities to continue working than ever.  

“Studies have shown those with disabilities tend to be happier, healthier, and have higher incomes when they’re working,” said Enzi. “Unfortunately the disabled today are less likely to earn income from working than ever before.”

By creating a system that can support the ability of disabled Americans to still contribute to our workforce, Enzi believes Congress would be able to provide the long-term security that America’s disabled deserve without putting an additional financial burden on the country that it cannot afford.

Click here for a copy of the full speech.

Click here to download a video of excerpts of the speech.