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Will Congress act on shrinking Social Security Disability fund?

Published on May 31st, 2013

Two reports on the state of Social Security trust funds were released this month. While one of the reports indicated that healthcare costs paid out by Medicare are down, the other report painted a very grim future for Social Security Disability unless Congress takes action soon.

In the second report, trustees indicate that Social Security disability programs are suffering billion dollar deficits every year. According to their findings, the general trust fund that pays out disability insurance and benefits suffered a $55 billion deficit last year alone. Next year’s deficit is projected even larger at a staggering $75 billion.

As some people here in Illinois know, the future of disability programs in the United States will hinge on whether Congress can make changes before the 2016 deadline hits. If Congress can’t figure out a way of saving the programs, or at the very least sustain the program for a few more years, the deadline will automatically cut benefits by 20 percent across the nation. And with the number of disability claims on the rise, this could mean financial difficulties for thousands of recipients across the country.

Because of current laws, Social Security and Social Security Disability cannot be mixed; but some have questioned why this is not being considered as a possibility. Charles Blahous III, one of the public trustees on the board, points out that combining the trusts into one general fund will likely siphon money away from retirees rather than help both programs on a whole. As he puts it, Congress will need to come to a bipartisan decision on the issue before any changes for the better can be made.

Source: The Washington Times, “Congress faces 2016 deadline to save Social Security’s disability program,” Stephen Dinan, May 31, 2013

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