According to Social Security actuaries, the Social Security Retirement Fund will run dry in 2034 – meaning retirees will likely only receive roughly 75 percent of promised benefits at that time. But, while the slow depletion of retirement funds is certainly a significant problem, there is actually another Social Security fund relied upon by millions that will be exhausted far sooner, and that is the fund for Social Security Disability Insurance(SSDI).
Sadly, Reuters reports that the SSDI trust fund will be emptied by 2016. This means that nine million disabled individuals – and two million dependents – will have to endure a 20 percent reduction in disability benefits if nothing is done to rectify the situation before that time.
Some experts believe that this crisis can be averted if Congress simply reallocates a small percentage of payroll tax revenues to SSDI from the retirement program. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary, Stephen Goss, reallocation of a mere 1/10th of 1 percent would equalize the long-term outlook of both programs.
Regardless of how the problem is solved, hopefully something is done soon to ensure that the disabled are properly cared for and not left even more at risk.
The number of individuals relying on SSDI benefits has been growing in recent years. For instance, although only 5.9 disabled workers received benefits in 2003, there are roughly 9 million today. And, while many believe that this recent increase in the number of disabled workers is attributed to an easy application and approval process, this is simply not the case. Indeed, most SSDI claims are initially denied when first filed.
However, it is important for applicants to know that the initial claim is simply the first step in a lengthy, and complex, administrative process. For example, a denied applicant can submit a formal Request of Reconsideration of his or her denial in some states.
In addition, the applicant can also request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) if his or her claim is initially rejected. Lastly, if the ALJ makes a mistake when denying a claim, the applicant can further appeal to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council.
Importantly, even after this entire administrative process is exhausted, it is still possible for the applicant to file suit in federal court. Consequently, if you are currently filing a SSDI claim, or if your initial claim was already rejected, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced SSDI attorney. A skilled attorney can assist in reviewing your claim and help guide you through this complicated process.