Jimmy Carter photo

Statement on Signing H.R. 3236 Into Law - Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980

June 09, 1980

Today I have signed H.R. 3236, the Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980. This bill is the product of several years of intensive study and review conducted by this administration and the Congress. It forms a balanced package, with amendments to strengthen the integrity of the disability programs, increase equity among beneficiaries, offer greater assistance to those who are trying to work, and improve program administration.

Since the mid-1950's the social security disability insurance (DI) program has offered protection to insured workers who have lost wages because of unexpected and often catastrophic disabilities. More recently, since 1974, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has provided Federal financial assistance to needy disabled persons whether or not they are covered under the disability insurance program.

Despite their medical impairments, most disabled DI and SSI beneficiaries would like to work. Often they are able to find employment either in their previous occupations or in new jobs. But returning to work can now cause a recipient to lose all his cash and medical benefits, and this formidable financial risk deters many beneficiaries from seeking or accepting serious job offers.

H.R. 3236 is designed to help disabled beneficiaries return to work by minimizing the risks involved in accepting paid employment. It does this in several ways:

—by providing automatic reentitlement to benefits if an attempt to return to work fails within 1 year;

—by continuing medical protection for up to 3 years after a person returns to work, and by providing immediate reentitlement to medical benefits if the individual subsequently returns to the disability rolls;

—by taking account of an individual's disability-related work expenses in determining eligibility for benefits; and

—by continuing, on an experimental basis for 3 years, cash and medical benefits to SSI recipients with low earnings.

H.R. 3236 establishes a special pilot program that will provide $18 million over a 3-year period to allow States to offer medical and social services to employed handicapped people to help them continue working. It also gives the Social Security Administration new authority to test the effect of further changes in the law. Changes which show promise for helping DI and SSI beneficiaries can then be made a permanent part of the law.

H.R. 3236 adjusts the maximum limitation on disability insurance dependents' benefits. The adjustment addresses problems that exist because some disabled workers can receive cash disability benefits that are greater than their previous employment income. The adjusted benefit limitation will not apply to people currently receiving benefits. In fact, no person now receiving benefits will have his or her benefits reduced as a result of any provision in this bill. The final version of the limitation is more restrictive than the administration proposed and will impact adversely on some beneficiaries. Therefore, I will expect the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate carefully its effect on new beneficiaries and be prepared to recommend any changes that may be needed.

A major provision of H.R. 3236 establishes a voluntary certification program for health insurance supplemental to Medicare—commonly referred to as "Medigap" policies—in States that do not have adequate programs of their own to control abuses in the sale of these policies. The new voluntary certification program, which I strongly and actively supported, will do the senior citizens of our country a great service. It will ensure that approved policies meet prescribed minimum standards, and it will set penalties for furnishing fraudulent or misleading information and for other abuses.

Finally, I would like to recognize the contributions made by Congressman Jake Pickle, Congressman Al Ullman, Congressman Jim Corman, Congressman Claude Pepper, Senator Gaylord Nelson, Senator Russell Long, and Senator Max Baucus. Their able leadership and cooperation were essential to the passage of this bill.

NOTE: As enacted, H.R. 3236 is Public Law 96-265, approved June 9, 1980.

Jimmy Carter, Statement on Signing H.R. 3236 Into Law - Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251862

Simple Search of Our Archives