If you are disabled and in the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, or are currently a recipient of SSDI benefits, you are probably paying close attention to the massive news coverage of the impending budgetary shortfall facing the Social Security Administration (SSA) run disability benefits program.
A recent news feature from Town Hall is urging Congress to take action before it’s too late. The problem stems from the fact that SSA runs various programs funded by different sources. First, there is the Social Security retirement benefits program millions of elderly Americans rely upon to survive when they reach the ever-increasing age of eligibility. In addition to this program, with which most of us are familiar, there are two programs to help disabled Americans. One is the Social Security Disability Insurance program, and the other is the Supplemental Security Income program (SSI).
As our Boston disabilities lawyers can explain, SSDI is a program to help injured Americans who can no longer work as a result of a disability that is not necessarily work related. If the disability was work-related, injured workers could apply for worker’ compensation benefits. However, there is still a requirement claimants have worked long enough and recently enough to have paid into the system, making them eligible to receive SSDI benefits, assuming they can prove disability.
On the other hand, SSI benefits are designed for children and elderly adults who are disabled and have never worked or haven’t worked recently enough to have eligibility credits to apply for SSDI benefits. When the system was first created, it was not adequately funded; so, currently disabled Americans were being paid with money collected from those currently working and paying taxes. The Social Security retirement benefits program was funded in the same manner.
Basically, the program was always technically running a deficit. When one fund would run dangerously low, money was shifted from one fund to the other. This has been the way the system has operated since it was established. The current problem is that money is running out again, and some in Congress do not want to shift funds from the retirement program to save the disability program from facing a 20 percent budget reduction. This would mean those currently on SSDI or SSI would have their monthly checks cut by as much as 20 percent, and it is also likely others currently applying for benefits would have their applications rejected due to lack of funding.
This would be devastating to over 9 million disabled Americans if the situation is not corrected quickly. The budgetary crisis is supposed to be fully felt by those in need in late 2016, so time is running out. While there may be a need to reform the system, those in favor of not shifting funds to cover the deficit tend to blame disabled claimants in need of benefits to survive, rather than looking at other inefficiencies in the system. In reality, while there are some occurrences of benefits fraud, the vast majority of those on SSDI benefits had to fight hard to get those benefits and would not be able to survive or take care of their families without them.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Reform SSDI Before It’s Too Late, March 23, 2015, Town Hall More Blog Entries:
Boley v. Colvin: On SSDI Adjudication Procedures, August 21, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog