Disability benefits will be paid on schedule, Social Security officials said, after the president signed last-minute legislation Tuesday to prevent the nation from defaulting on its debt.
President Barack Obama had warned that Social Security payments — including Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, benefits for people with disabilities — could be threatened without an agreement to raise the country’s borrowing limit.
But the deal approved Tuesday came just in time to ensure that August benefit payments will go out as usual, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said.
While the news brings some immediate relief to Americans with disabilities who rely on government assistance, advocates say they remain concerned the debt deal could have negative consequences for this population down the line.
Under the agreement, Medicaid and other entitlement programs will be spared from initial cuts. But the deal calls for a bipartisan commission to establish a plan by the end of the year to reduce spending by another $1.5 trillion and disability advocates are worried that entitlement programs could factor into such a plan.
“While we are glad that the immediate crisis has passed and Medicaid survived the first round of budget cuts in Washington, this fight is far from over,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “The Medicaid lifeline, along with other programs that help ensure inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in society, are still at stake.”