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DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Retired » Retired Forums » 2016 Postmortem (Forum) » Mustn't we reevaluate our... » Reply #121

Response to Dragonfli (Original post)

Thu May 12, 2016, 05:28 AM

121. Call me a "moderate" for saying this if you will, but...

.... while safety net programs MUST exist, people would have an easier time getting off of those programs if we didn't penalize them by yanking benefits abruptly that are required for them to keep the jobs they have (like child care). And since everyone wants a better life than merely subsidence, such incentives will encourage people to work as much as they can, rather than having to watch their hours so they don't go over the edge and lose childcare benefits or half their SNAP.

That's the exact situation a dear friend of mine and her husband were in when they got pregnant, got married, and were both working to raise their daughter. How can you show yourself worthy of a promotion at a minimum wage job by working extra hours as needed, if that's going to push you over the income limit and $250-300.worth of benefits be taken away for $25 too much income?

Reforms to SSDI that would save money would include letting already enrolled people who can work making less than their benefit amount but more than the current extremely low "substantial gainful activity" level to make a work attempt without fearing they will come out worse financially if they try and succeed, by offering partial benefits until they are back to making what they would have pre-tax on SSDI if they continue to have significant impairment from the disabling condition. Since SSDI is already a large reduction in income from pre-disability employment in most cases, it doesn't encourage people to try if there is a penalty for success. Transitioning from SSI disability is even more difficult, since often with it the recipient must receive housing, food, and medical assistance to even come close to making ends meet. Both often require training and educational assistance, too.

For everything, we need to incentivice success without penalizing failure or success. We should never take a dollar of benefits unless the person has earned at least twice that amount (if someone is at the borderline income level for a program, maybe ask them to pay back $10.00 if they were $25.00 over, when it comes to childcare or housing, rather than kick them off of the programs immediately.) An SSI recipient might end up staying longer in subsidized housing under that model, but eventually they may make enough to move out, and if they get worse they don't have to go through the full application process again because they already have a documented file -- nor are they left homeless. One of the two in a young family may be able to get a promotion and no longer need child care assistance at all. In the interim, both are working to their maximum abilities (contributing to the economy) and getting to actually better their standard of living.

And if there's one thing universal about humanity, it's that we want to better ourselves. If the transition from "welfare to work" (I put it in quotes because "welfare" no longer exists even if the Republicans forgot about killing it) is easier and incentiviced, people will do it naturally themselves. (That's why they created EITC, for example, but it doesn't go far enough and Republicans want it gone, too.)

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