The federal government’s Social Security Disability Insurance program for disabled workers has been under fire in recent years because the number of Americans who are applying for and receiving benefits has increased significantly, causing fund reserves to run low.
In fact, it has been projected that SSDI resources could run out by 2016 if something isn’t done to cut beneficiary payments or increase SSDI tax revenue and reserves.
Many politicians have blamed the dwindling funds on fraud or waste within the SSDI system. Republicans, specifically, have also said that too many Americans are allowed to collect unemployment benefits on top of SSDI benefits.
But supporters of SSDI and advocates for the disabled are quick to point out that only around 100,000 out of roughly 9 million SSDI beneficiaries collect unemployment on top of SSDI, and when they do, it’s for good reason.
For example, SSDI requirements allow disabled individuals to work part time and earn a limited amount of income, so if part-time employees receiving SSDI lose their jobs, they may be entitled to unemployment benefits like anyone else.
Instead of making cuts to the SSDI program, some lawmakers are suggesting that it is time to expand the program to meet the changing needs of Americans.
A U.S. senator from the Midwest said in a speech this week that minor tweaks to the system such as administrative changes and a simple change to taxation could be all that’s necessary to keep the program funded and able to assist Americans who need it most.
For example, increasing the SSDI tax rate for workers by just 0.2 percent would sustain the SSDI program for the next 75 years, the National Academy of Social Insurance reports.
Thankfully, not all lawmakers are convinced that cutting SSDI is the only way to deal with the program’s lack of resources. Too many disabled Americans would suffer if that were to happen.
Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, "It's time to expand Social Security, not cut it, Sen. Sherrod Brown says," Stephen Koff, July 8, 2014