Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015: A Summary
Thursday, November 26th 2015
Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog this week! We hope that you are all having a fabulous fall, and are spending this holiday weekend celebrating with family and friends. From all of us here at M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
As you may have noticed, over the last few months we have published a number of blogs that examined government disability spending – specifically, the budgetary troubles disability programs are experiencing – on both a state and federal level. The first blog we published on the topic, titled State Disability Funding Cutbacks and the Effect on Families with Special Needs, examined how cutting spending to disability programs is poor way to address budget concerns. The second post, The One Social Security Act, discussed the trouble that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund (DITF) was having, and examined the proposal to merge the DITF with the Old Age Survivors Insurance (OASI) fund to avoid make cuts to government disability benefits. The third post, Social Security 2016, examined the upcoming changes to Social Security benefits in 2016. (Note: to read these blogs in full, please follow the individual links or visit our blog archive.)
Today, we would like to continue on in the same theme. This time, however, we are able to report news that is a bit more positive: on October 30, the Senate voted to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and it was signed into law by President Obama on November 2nd of the same year. If you would like to learn more about this bill and how it positively affects individuals with disabilities then please join us!
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015: What is it?
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 has been called a “rare, multi-year fiscal deal” that – in a nutshell – prevents the U.S. from defaulting on its debts, thus avoiding a government shut down in December of this year. The deal accomplishes this both by extending the government’s borrowing authority through to mid-March of 2017, and also by raising spending by $80 billion dollars. (Note: to learn more about the debt crisis, please follow this link.)
Although as Americans we should all be happy that a solution to the debt crisis has been found, Americans with disabilities have even more to smile about as there are a number of provisions that are extremely good for the disability community. If you would like a comprehensive analysis of these provisions, please visit the American Association of People with Disabilities’ (AAPD) website, specifically this article written by Lisa Ekman. For the purposes of this blog, please see the below condensed summaries of these provisions:
Prevents harmful cuts to discretionary programs: Eliminates “sequestration spending”, which was enacted in a 2011 budget deal and would have resulted in automatic, indiscriminate budget cuts to domestic discretionary spending, including many of the programs that support people with disabilities that live and work independently. This deal eliminates about 905 of these cuts in 2016, and about 70% in 2017.
Social Security Disability Insurance: This act prevents the 19% cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance (the topic of this blog we published in October) that were predicted as a result of the projected shortfalls to the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. Full benefits can now be paid through to 2022. It also increases penalties for fraud, and required the SSA to conduct additional demonstrations regarding creating a benefit offset which would reduce a beneficiary’s benefit by $1 for every $2 earned.
For more information, please follow this link for a section by section summary of the bill (link provided by Lisa Ekman of aapd.com) or follow the link to read The Bipartisan Budget Agreement: What You Need To Know.
Would You Like More Information?
Thank you all so much for taking the time during this busy holiday season to visit our blog today. We hope that we were able to provide you with some new information and/or valuable insights as to the financial situation facing federal disability programs, and how it can affect your family member with special needs.
If you would like more information on financial planning for individuals with special needs, please do not hesitate to contact us! We pride ourselves on providing the tools, information and resources that our clients need to achieve successful, secure and happy futures. You may wish to browse through our Services and Workshops webpages, where we have posted information specific to the ways in which we can help you help your family member with special needs reach his or her fullest potential.
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