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Why is the Social Security Disability Program Under Attack?

As we get closer to the upcoming presidential election, it is likely we will continue to hear more about the upcoming budget crisis facing the Social Security Disability Fund. The problem is quite simple. The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates two main programs and manages two funds for the respective program.

congress.jpgThere is the Social Security retirement fund, which was designed to provide funds for Americans who are too old to continue working, or those who wish to finally retire, and there is the Social Security disability program designed for those who cannot work due to a disability.

As our Boston disability attorneys can explain, there are two separate categories of benefits within the Social Security disability program. There is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) designed to provide benefits for disabled workers who have paid into the system through tax withholdings, and there is the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) designed to aid disabled children and elderly disabled or blind adults who live in low-income households.

The retirement and the disability programs are run by their respective Social Security fund, and, since they were designed to serve different functions, money from one fund cannot be used for the other fund without approval from Congress. Currently, the Social Security Disability Fund will run out of money in late 2016, and the retirement program will run out of money in 2034. Unless something is done to fix the situation, over 9 million disabled Americans may see their benefits cut by as much as 20 percent. This is an unacceptable situation, which would cause unimaginable hardship.

While many in Congress are pushed to move funds from the retirement budget to the disability budget, some presidential hopefuls are fighting any increased funding to the disability programs without a major reform, which may be more talk than an actual possibility in the time remaining.

One of the main targets of their criticism deals with claims of Social Security Disability Insurance fraud. While it is obvious fraud will always happen on some scale, according to a recent article form the Legal Intelligencer, in reality, Social Security Disability Insurance fraud only occurs one percent of the time. In other words, fraud accusations may make for good sound bites, but it does not accurately reflect the reason for a lack of funding, nor does fraud prevention provide for an adequate solution to the upcoming crisis.

As the author suggests, a realistic way to fix the funding problem would be to do away with a loophole in the Social Security tax withholdings designed to benefit wealthier Americans at the expense of those who depend on Social Security Disability Insurance to survive. Currently, Social Security tax is only assessed on the first $118,500 of individual income. Any income over that amount is not taxed by Social Security. This means a person who makes $118,500 a year will contribute the same amount as a CEO who makes $20 million a year to the disability fund. Some representatives have recently created legislation to correct this imbalance, but is not known if these measures will have enough support to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

The Social Security Disability Program Is Senselessly Under Attack , Apr. 1, 2015, Legal Intelligencer
More Blog Entries:

Social Security Disability Claims Process, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog