In report last month from the Social Security trustees, officials confirmed
what many economists, lawmakers, and advocates have been predicting for
some time: without action from Congress, the Social Security Disability
program will be depleted by the end of 2016. The depletion would result
in a 19% cut in benefits for the nearly 11 million Americans who depend on them.
The Washington Post reports, the Social Security trustees called for quick action to maintain the
program's solvency. "Social Security’s Disability Insurance
(DI) Trust Fund now faces an urgent threat of reserve depletion,"
the new report stated, "requiring prompt corrective action by lawmakers
if sudden reductions or interruptions in benefit payments are to be avoided."
For the last 25 years, whenever there has been a looming threat of SSDI
depletion, Congress has agreed to replenish the program with funds from
the much more robust Social Security retirement program. This year, however,
Republicans are taking a hard line against this method and are demanding
a new, long-term solution to keep the program funded.
Several Proposed Solutions
Both Democrats and the White House have offered possible solutions that
would at least provide a short-term fix and allow time for larger reform.
They have proposed that some payroll taxes be used to keep SSDI funded,
or even permanently combining the disability and retirement trusts—which
would keep both programs solvent until 2034. The Republicans who control
Congress, however, have yet to agree to these solutions, leaving many
worried that a dramatic change in Social Security disability could be coming.
"Everybody is in agreement that something needs to happen," said
Shai Akabas, the associate director of economic policy at the Bipartisan
Policy Center. "But until the two parties come together on a compromise,
that puts people in a high state of uncertainty."
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