The candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have been making big headlines for the past several months talking about the problems with the Social Security disability benefits fund and how it is running out of money. While the candidates are not suggesting any specific plan for fixing the situation, they say a major overhaul is needed before agreeing to allocate additional funding to the program.
As our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits attorneys can explain, this may offer hope for those in the future if a change is done appropriately, but it will not be of much help to the approximately 10 million disabled Americans who are currently relying on Social Security disability benefits to make ends meet and take care of themselves and their families.
According to recent posting on the official White House blog, the presidential administration is urging Congress to fund the program before millions of disabled Americans are needlessly allowed to suffer. The posting first describes how the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program works.
The program is designed so that if a worker becomes disabled (not through an on-the-job injury or illness, as that would be covered by workers’ compensation benefits) and can no longer work, he or she should be able to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. These benefits will provide a portion of the workers’ weekly wages he or she was making prior to the injury or illness. It is not the entire amount of the workers’ weekly wage prior to the disability, because when Congress created the program, the legislators were concerned that any program that paid the same level benefits as income would incentivize disabled people to stay at home and collect benefits instead of going back to work.
While many claim that SSDI is an entitlement program, whereby people take advantage of the system despite the cap on benefits, as the White House notes, most of the Americans currently receiving SSDI benefits worked for an average of 22 years prior to becoming disabled. These people were also middle class individuals who became low-income after their disability. This shows that many of the claims about people gaming the system are not correct. In reality, most of the people who are receiving disability benefits are truly in need of assistance and would not be able to make ends meet without SSDI.
When looking at the actual numbers, the average income for a current disability claimant prior to filing for disability benefits from Social Security was just over $42,000. On the other hand, the average annual disability benefit is just under $14,000. There is no logical reason a person would choose to give up making over $40,000 a year so they earn less than $14,000, even if that meant they could stay at home an not have to go to work.
As the administration notes, if Congress does not act soon, there will be a 19 percent shortage in the annual budget, and this would mean all SSDI beneficiaries would face a 19 percent reduction in their benefits across the board, and that is not acceptable.
Call our Boston SSDI benefits attorneys for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Social Security Disability Insurance: A Lifeline for Millions of American Workers and Their Families, July 17, 2015, White House Blog
More Blog Entries:
Mays v. Colvin – Disproving Ability to Do Sedentary Work, Jan. 23, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Blog