The House Ways and Means Committee has given U.S. disability insurers a lift just in time for the May Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign: a little attention for the idea that disability insurance can help employers pay for paid family leave.
Rachel Greszler, an economist who appeared today at a committee hearing on paid family and medical leave, talked about the idea of using expanded access to private disability insurance to promote paid family leave.
Greszler, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said that a new federal paid family and medical leave program would probably be limited and hard to use.
“But a lenient program would invite misuse and abuse,” Greszler said.
States such as New Jersey have found that promoting their state-run paid leave programs, to give workers real awareness of and access to existing paid leave benefits, leads to sharp increases in spending, Greszler said.
She argued that making a paid leave program part of Social Security would lead to similar problems.
Already, she said, pressure to expand Social Security retirement benefits has contributed to the fact that Social Security payroll taxes eat up a much bigger share of workers’ pay now than when the program was created.
Greszler proposed several private-sector-based alternatives to a new, purely government-run paid leave program.
“Increase access and awareness of private disability insurance policies that cover a lot of a families’ needs,” Greszler said at the hearing.