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Marco Rubio: Tom Cotton’s Return to Work Act Will Save Social Security Disability Insurance From Bankruptcy

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“This will not only save the program, which is dangerously close to going bankrupt; It will save our aid for the people who need it most.”

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is pairing up with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on a bill they insist “would save Social Security Disability Insurance from bankruptcy.”

Last week, Cotton introduced the “Return to Work Act” with Rubio as a cosponsor.

“This bill would help Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries to return to work, if they are able to, while also preserving the program’s long-term sustainability for the permanently disabled,” Rubio’s office noted. “Social Security’s Disability Insurance program has grown more than six-fold from $20 to $137 billion (in 2012 dollars) since 1970. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries who leave the program to return to work has dropped from nearly six percent in 1982 to less than one half of one percent today. The Return to Work Act requires disability determiners to classify new beneficiaries based on whether medical improvement is expected. Beneficiaries who are expected to recover would be given a timeline and additional resources to obtain employment while on SSDI. These beneficiaries will also be able to re-apply if they have not recovered. Beneficiaries who are not expected to recover will have no timeline for program participation

“Social Security Disability Insurance is supposed to be a safety net for people who need it the most,” Rubio said in support of the bill on Thursday. “However, rampant abuse, lax enforcement and insufficient accountability have enabled this program to grow unchecked, and has actually prevented many people from going back to work. The health of our national economy and strength of our communities depend on able-bodied Americans earning paychecks. This legislation represents a long overdue reform that takes care of working Americans and saves our social safety net for the truly disabled.”

“We shouldn’t resign people with treatable conditions to a lifetime of sitting on the sidelines. If they can get back to work, then by all means we should help them,” Cotton said. “That’s why we’ve got to fix this program so it takes into account people’s different capabilities. This will not only save the program, which is dangerously close to going bankrupt; It will save our aid for the people who need it most.”

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., introduced the companion measure in the U.S. House.

“For too long, the success of well-intentioned federal programs has been determined by the growth of their funding and not by real-world outcomes,” Hill said. “After more than 60 years of existence, the SSDI program has morphed into a black hole of abuse and unaccountability that hurts disabled Americans and taxpayers. To ensure that SSDI supports those who need it most and promotes work for those willing and able, SSDI reforms are desperately needed. I’m proud to work with Senator Cotton on this commonsense bill to ensure the responsible stewardship of program funds and strengthen a valuable safety net for disabled Americans.”

Cotton’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday.


Reach Kevin Derby at


  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tony

    July 3, 2019, 8:55 pm at 8:55 pm

    Section 222(a) of the Social Security Act already gives the Social Security Administration the authority to refer someone to vocational rehabilitation. (See Social Security Rulings 64-13)

    The Administration hasn’t enacted the law. There is no need for congress to pass a new bill and create a new law. The Social Security Administration only need to enact the law by doing a proposed rule change. There is no good cause for someone not to participate in the vocational rehabilitation if their disability is a Medical Improvement Expected. There is already a timeline for the MIE with a diary date of 18 months before they are reviewed.

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