Congress Working to Fund Disability Benefits Program

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSA is the same agency that oversees Social Security Retirement benefits; however, funding does not come from the same source.

congress.jpgWhile most funding for SSA comes from payroll deductions from employee’s earnings and quarterly payments from self-employed individuals, money for retirement and disability funds go into separate pots. Congress can also approve this money to be supplemental by additional federal funding.

Historically, when one of the two SSA funds was running low or a predicted shortfall was nearing, Congress would reallocate funds from one fund to the other to keep both programs running at or near full strength. While some see this as merely kicking the ball down the road for future generations to deal with, it has become a necessity to avoid making tens of millions of disabled and elderly Americans suffer the consequences of a budgetary shortfall.

Recently, some in Congress have claimed they are not willing to continue to reallocate funds until Congress can do a complete overhaul to SSA programs. This is not good for those on, or soon to go on, disability benefits as the program is scheduled to run out of money in late 2016. If this happens, more than 9 million disabled Americans will suffer at least a 20 percent reduction in benefits, and there is no telling what will happen to those in the application process.

While a predicted fiscal cliff or crisis, as it often called, was looking as if it was more likely to happen, according to a recent news article from The Fiscal Times, Congress may now be willing throw a lifeline to the underfunded disability benefits program.

Despite Congressional Republicans’ vocal opposition to President Barack Obama’s plan to shift $300 billion from the retirement fund to the disability fund, ranking Congressional Democrats believe both sides may be able to work together to reach a compromise to keep the program running after 2016. As our Boston Social Security disability attorneys know all too well, if both sides of the aisle can’t work together, there will be a great hardship forced upon millions of disabled Americans desperately in need of benefits to make ends meet.

One of the reasons some lawmakers believe funding will be provided is the political backlash they would face if they can’t get it fixed. Many people mistakenly believe Social Security Benefits are a handout. In reality, SSDI is a government-run disability insurance program. Instead of paying a premium to a private insurance company, money is paid in the form of taxes and is termed “paying into the system.”

Obviously, due the nature of any tax payer funded program, current tax payers are technically paying for currently disabled Americans to have benefits, and believe if they become disabled, future tax payers will pay their benefits. When the system was initially created, it was not highly funded, so it was necessary to fund it in such a way. If those paying taxes now were told there is no money for benefits when they need them, there would be considerable disfavor amongst the voting public.

If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:
Congress May Throw Social Security Disability Insurance a Lifeline , Feb. 26, 2015, The Financial Times

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

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