Legislation That Could Really Help Disabled and Retired Americans

Much of the debate regarding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Social Security Retirement program, known by the acronym OASI, concern the actuarially forecast exhaustion of the OASDI trust fund that funds a portion of the retirement and disability benefit payment received by millions of Americans.

The SSDI trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2016, and the OASI fund is expected to remain solvent through 2033. These dates are all changeable, as Congress could increase funding, decrease benefit payments or do some of both. The changes are not difficult conceptually, and if there was a political will to fully fund both programs, a bill could be on the President’s desk relatively soon.

However, the will has been lacking. There are those who recognize what needs to be done. One Congressman has introduced a bill called the “Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act,” which unlike many new bills, is not an Orwellian joke. The bill would make a few straightforward changes that would protect Social Security for Americans, and would actually enhance the program.

One, it would improve funding by lifting the tax break wage earners above the current wage cap ($113,700 for 2013) receive. This would substantially increase the support for the programs and would phase out the unfair cap that only benefits very high wage earners.

Second, it would provide a more realistic Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The current COLA is based on a generic Cost of Living Index (CPI) that applies to all workers, known as CPI-W, and this bill would replace it with a CPI focused on the types of purchases the elderly incur, CPI-E.

These changes result in a much smaller shortfall, which does not occur until 2051. Congress could put in place a small overall tax increase that would ensure stability of the program for the long term and would improve the financial condition of a great many elderly and disabled Americans.

Source: teddeutch.house.gov, “The Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act,” Office of Congressman Ted Deutch, website accessed June 17, 2015