So far in 2015, Social Security Disability Insurance has provided financial benefits to disabled workers and their dependents, helping more than 11 million Americans stay above the poverty line. SSDI aims to give temporary relief for people who cannot work or find work because of a disability, paying out $141 billion in 2014 through the government’s trust fund. However, the fund is quickly running out of cash, as paid benefits have outstripped cash inflows in the last 15 years. Social Security is funded by payroll taxes, with the employer and the employee each contributing 6.2%, but only 0.9% of that money goes to the SSDI fund.
The imminent deficit in the SSDI fund has created a legislative controversy in Washington, D.C., but failure to fix that problem will have repercussions in the lives of real people like you beyond our nation’s capital.
The Importance of Social Security Disability Insurance
According to current reports, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits reach 9 million disabled workers and 2 million dependents. If you earn $1,090 or less per month, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. In the recently published 2015 annual report, the Social Security’s system trustees indicate that beneficiaries use the cash payments to buy food and medication, pay rent, and meet other essential needs that would not be met without SSDI.
The Current Political Climate Regarding SSDI
Congress is currently divided over what to do to fix the looming SSDI crisis. Unlike other legislative issues, this crisis has yet to create any partisan solutions. Republicans and Democrats are generally supporting one of two philosophical camps. One camp recommends that Congress adjust the proportion of tax dollars going into Social Security’s two trust funds, so that SSDI gets more cash. Essentially, instead of 0.9%, SSDI would get potentially 1.5% or 2%, leaving 4.2% or 4.7% to the Old Age and Survivors’ fund. This is also the White House’s position, as indicated in a recent paper published by the Office of Management and Budget.
Another camp proposes that Social Security be revamped, introducing stricter requirements for SSDI. For example, applicants could be screened to prevent fraud, employers could be encouraged to hire disabled workers sooner, and SSDI beneficiaries could join a fast-track program designed to curb the expiration date of benefit eligibility.
What Will Likely Happen to SSDI?
Although uncertainty pervades the current political and legislative environment, the SSDI crisis will need to be resolved before July 2016, when the trust fund is estimated to deplete. The consensus among political commentators, academics, Congress researchers, and Social Security experts is that five things will happen:
- Qualification rules will tighten.
- Benefits will cap out in time.
- Employers will be encouraged to hire more disabled workers – and sooner.
- The SSDI’s trust fund will receive more money than the 0.9% it currently gets.
- Fraud legislation will be more strictly enforced.
What You Should Do
Before SSDI potentially changes, assess your options and find out what you can do to protect the welfare of your family if you cannot work. Speak to an experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability attorney at Nolan Caddell Reynolds by calling 866-242-0452 to learn more about your options.