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New Worries for Social Security Disability Fund

For the past six months or so, the news has been flooded with reports that United States Social Security disability fund would run out of money in the later part of 2016. This would mean that, for those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, they would face a roughly 20 percent cut in their monthly benefits checks. This is a major, deal since we are talking about anywhere between 9 million and 11 million people, depending on how the estimate is calculated.

wealthThe crisis was recently averted when congress members worked together on a bipartisan budget bill that would provide funding for the next few years while making some changes to the Social Security disability applications process, such as adding more administrative law judges (ALJs). ALJs are the hearing officers the Social Security Administration (SSA) employs to adjudicate whether a claimant gets benefits after the initial application has been denied. While it would seem that the program is out of trouble for the near future, a recent news feature from CNBC is suggesting this may not be the case.

The author agrees that the recent budget agreement will provide short-term relief to the Social Security disability fund, but she argues that the trouble is far from over, and most of the problems are “self-inflicted” with respect to how SSA runs the program. One of the problems identified is the so-called issue with overpayments.

Overpayments is a term used when the agency pays benefits to someone who is not truly disabled or is otherwise not entitled to benefits. While this is certainly something that could happen, and does happen on very minute scale, alleged overpayments account for a very small percentage of the agency’s overall budget.   Overpayments are only seen as big deal because politicians who are opposed to funding the disability programs like use these allegations when making speeches on the campaign trail.

We know this to be false because of how difficult it is for the average claimant to be awarded benefits. This is especially true if the applicant does not have an experienced Boston disability attorney to help him or her through the difficult process. Many people wait until they are denied benefits to speak with an attorney, but the sooner in the process a claimant gets representation, the higher the chances are of obtaining a full and appropriate benefits award.

The reality is that the program started as being in debt and will likely always operate with a debt. When the program was created, nobody had paid taxes into the fund, so they had no way of providing benefits to the first recipients without going into debt. This is the same as how the Social Security Old Age and Retirement fund was created and why it has run a deficit.

The article does propose several other solutions that might actually be helpful, such as making the offices more efficient and reducing the amount of money spent on unnecessary items; however, without more funding from taxpayers, the problem will always exist.

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

Additional Resources:

Social Security disability fund gets dealt another blow, November 17, 2015, CNBC, by Kelley Holland

More Blog Entries:

Rand Paul Says Many Receiving SSDI Benefits Gaming System, Jan. 27, 2015, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Lawyer Blog