Monterey County Department of Social Services building

Local residents apply for benefits at Monterey County Department of Social Services offices like this one, located in Seaside. The federal government makes determinations as to eligibility criteria. 

As the Trump Administration continues to whittle down the number of people using public benefit programs, like the supplemental nutrition program—called CalFresh in California—it recently took aim at slashing or stopping benefits to hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities receiving Social Security, including many who are children and older adults.

If approved, the changes would require those with disabilities receiving benefits to undergo more reviews to prove they still need the support. Common Dreams, a nonprofit news website focused on social justice issues, reports that it could mean an estimated loss of $2.6 billion in benefit payments over the next decade.

The Social Security Administration argues the changes will make sure only those who truly need the benefits receive them and that it will help commerce by allowing more people re-enter the workforce

“The flexibility these proposed changes would allow us to determine (medical improvement) at an earlier point than we can under our current rules,” the Social Security Administration states in the Federal Register, where the proposed changes are published. “Consequently, we expect that the changes we are proposing would enhance program integrity and ensure that only those who continue to qualify for benefits will receive them.”

On Jan. 28, 41 senators signed a letter sent to the Social Security Administration protesting the changes, they called the proposed increase in reviews “unjustified and unnecessary” and said it “appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to make it more difficult for Americans to access essential supports.”

The proposed changes were announced last fall, but received little notice until recently. The public comment period ends Friday, Jan. 31. Comments can be sent through the Federal Register's website.

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