The Politics of Social Security Disability

Feb 28, 2016 | Sara Khaki

Are your Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits at Risk?

As you are probably already aware, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has become a very politicized government program throughout the past few years.  Last year, in October, the program faced a real crisis as SSDI beneficiaries were at risk of their benefits being cut by 20% by the end of 2016.  Why?  Simply because the government did not have enough funds to pay benefits.  To prevent the cuts, President Obama signed into effect the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; the Act suspended the debt limit and reallocated a slightly higher percentage of payroll taxes to fund Social Security Disability Insurance.  The result is full benefits can be paid out through 2022.

What happens in 2022 then?  For now, the SSDI trust fund still needs additional financing. Six years is a short time to make some big changes to such a large program that affects so many people. There are plans to make adjustments to the SSDI program’s integrity and implement some pilot programs that will hopefully produce some positive results.

One major part of SSDI that needs revision is the incentive programs for those beneficiaries who want to get back to work.  There are several barriers and risk factors that keeps SSDI recipients from rejoining the workforce or from even making an attempt to see if they are medically able to work or not.

The new law allows for program changes and pilots to explore ways to solve this problem among others. We just hope that the Social Security Administration fully tests these upcoming pilot programs well before 2022 so that by then, we’ll know what works and what doesn’t work and hopefully be closer to a much improved program.

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