Nearly everyone has heard that the Social Security program is in a crisis. Without serious changes or reform, analysts are expecting the program to go bankrupt sometime in the near future. Exactly when that will happen (or even if it will happen) has been a topic of debate for quite some time. However, a recent report indicates that Social Security Disability benefits are expected to jump by 71 percent over the next ten years. What does this mean for this already-troubled program?
A recent report issued from the Congressional Budget Office (also known as the CBO) indicates that Social Security Disability Insurance (or SSDI) benefits are expected to increase by 71 percent over the next ten years. If this happens, some analysts state that it will leave the disability trust fund bankrupt within a four-year time period.
According to the Washington Examiner, the disability insurance program paid out $119 billion to 8.3 million disabled workers during fiscal year 2011. That accounts for nearly 18 percent of all Social Security spending. By 2022, that number is expected to increase to $204 billion. According to the numbers, the Social Security Disability program just can’t handle that amount, which will leave the program bankrupt.
Part of the problem seems to be a lack of jobs. In fact, there are more disability applications filed than there are jobs created each month. With fewer jobs available, those who suffer from disabilities are less likely to be hired as the competition for jobs increases and those who do not suffer from a disability are more likely to be hired than those who do. While this isn’t necessarily legal, the figures back this statement up. The unemployment rate for disabled individuals continues to remain higher than it is for those who are not disabled.
What can the Social Security Administration (SSA) do to save the Social Security Disability program and prevent bankruptcy? An increase in taxes may be necessary. If every worker paid even just a little bit more towards the Social Security program it could make a big difference in the agency’s budget. Another thing that the SSA should focus on is the creation of jobs for disabled people.
Perhaps if the government provided more incentives to companies for hiring disabled individuals, those individuals would be able to find jobs more easily and would no longer have to rely on SSDI payments. In addition, the SSA should focus on increasing help for disabled individuals who actually want to work. To further help the issue, the validity of disability claims should be closely scrutinized as there may be people receiving benefits who are not actually entitled to them.
No single scenario will fix this issue. It will take a combination of actions and program changes to make an impact on the sustainability of the SSDI program. If no changes are made, the future of the disability program may indeed be bleak.