When it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and serious injury, Illinois residents may want to take a look at what three counties in Texas are doing. For 30 years now, county workers have been using their own brand of Social Security, including SSDI. In addition to covering retirement, the plan also includes provisions for those suffering serious injury or illness.
According to recent reports, the county workers in these three Texas jurisdictions are able to retire with more money, as well as better death and disability benefits. By opting out of Social Security, they do not have to worry about the threats that the federal fund may run out of money. The rest of the United States cannot say that.
The counties in question are Galveston, Matagorda and Brazoria. Unlike many Illinois workers, workers in these counties have seen their savings increase each year. Employee and employer contributions are managed by a professional financial planner located in Houston.
The plan originated in 1980 as a substitute for the traditional Social Security model. Not all of the money goes into the employee’s retirement account, with some of it going towards an insurance-funded death benefit, survivors’ insurance and a disability benefit to cover serious illness and serious injury. Under the disability benefit, the person is paid immediately upon injury, instead of having to wait the six months required by SSDI. Of 1,350 county employees eligible to participate, a mere five have elected not to participate.
Whether or not this Texas program can become a model for reforming Social Security remains to be seen, but it may well be part of the debate in the upcoming presidential election. Social Security Disability remains an enigma to many confronting the need to apply. The statutes, rules and procedures seem mystifying and confusing to many individuals requiring assistance. In Illinos, an attorney devoted to helping people get the SSDI benefits they deserve may answer questions and assist in processing a successful application for benefits.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Perry Is Right: There Is a Texas Model for Fixing Social Security,” Merrill Matthews, Sept. 24, 2011