Rough times may be ahead for those who depend on Social Security disability benefits unless Congress and the government act fast. The most recent Social Security Trust Fund Treasurer’s report indicates that the Social Security Trust Fund allocated for SSDI and SSI recipients will run dry in three short years unless something significant is done to replenish it.
All Social Security Programs Have Funding Issues
The outlook is not quite as bleak for other Social Security programs. Retiree programs’ funding is expected to last through 2033 (which is still three years earlier than last years’ projection). Medicare funds are expected to last through 2024.
Of course, a lot of these projections involved guesswork. SSDI, SSI, Medicare, and SS retirement programs are all funded with payroll taxes. It’s impossible to predict with complete accuracy how much will come into government coffers via payroll taxes, because it’s impossible to accurately forecast the country’s economic and employment outlook. For now, as the Recession continue, income tax dollars are down, which had led to underfunding of critical programs (such as SSDI and SSI) which depend on payroll taxes.
It’s also impossible to accurately predict how many people will need disability programs. Studies seem to indicate that disability claims rise as unemployment rises. This seems to suggest that many who are unable to find work apply for SSDI when they might otherwise look for employment.
It’s Imperative to Keep SSA Programs Funded for Those Who Need Them
Social Security disability programs are, of course, intended for those who are completely unable to work because of a disabling condition. However, in tough economic times, when employment is scarce, claimants may be able to qualify based on the fact that employment is not available for which they would be qualified and medically capable of performing.
What’s to be done about funding? The simple answer is that funds need to be added to the trust fund- and fast. Exactly how that will be done is a question for Congress to tackle. Unfortunately, finding bipartisan solutions to the mess that Social Security funding has become has proven elusive.
What You Can Do as a Taxpayer and Voter
As an ordinary citizen (especially if you are receiving benefits), you should become involved to the best of your ability. Write your Congressman and Senators. Better yet, call them. Congressmen typically consider one letter to be representative of 100 constituents, and one phone call to be representative of 1,000 constituents. Politicians who desire to be re-elected have learned to pay attention to what their constituency wants. As with any issue that matters to you, you should let your voice be heard on funding issues.
Of course, your involvement shouldn’t end with calling or writing letters. You also have a vote. Use it. Send Congress a message that you believe that SSA programs are important. Sent people to Washington who agree with you. There’s no doubt that government faces a monumental task if SSA programs are to be salvaged. That’s why it’s important that your representatives know that it’s a priority for you-the voter.