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A New Republican Proposal Emerges to Reform SSDI

In Washington, D.C. this month (August, 2015) there was a renewed focus on the debate over the future of Social Security funding, as congressional Republicans consider a new set of proposals which seek to avert looming fiscal shortfalls in the disability program. Previous posts have detailed other potential plans to shore up the program’s finances, including raising the current cap on FICA taxes, reducing benefits, or transferring funds from the social security retirement trust fund into the disability trust fund to make up for the shortfall. The last option, referred to as an ‘inter-fund transfer,’ [...]

American Public Favors Strengthening Social Security

While Social Security continues to provide vital economic support to millions of disabled and retired individuals, children, and widows, there are long-term funding concerns which need to be addressed to keep the program fiscally sound for generations to come.

US Disability Strict by World Standards

It is an unfortunate reality that there are many critics of the Social Security Disability program, who despite evidence to the contrary, claim that benefits are too high, that the system is abused, and that it is simply too easy to get approved for benefits. Typical of this last argument is a statement made by Senator and Presidential Candidate Rand Paul, who recently proclaimed that “over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts — join the club. Who doesn’t get a little anxious for work and their back hurts?” Senator [...]

Playing Politics with the Disability Trust Fund

On the first day the new Congress took office earlier this year (2015) Republican lawmakers passed a measure that stopped the routine transfer of money from the social security retirement trust fund to the disability trust fund. In the past, Congress routinely transferred revenues between the funds as the need arose. In the early 1980’s, for instance, revenues were transferred from the disability trust fund to help shore up the retirement trust fund, though in recent years the transfer has typically flowed from the retirement fund to the disability fund. As it now stands, the [...]

LA Times Sets the Record Straight on the SSA

A recent article in the LA Times by Michael Hiltzik offered a strong defense of SSDI after a misleading attack on the program was published in the Wall Street Journal. The author of the Journal piece, Mark J. Warshawsky, criticized the high percentage of awards granted by Social Security Judges, and urged Congress to reform the entire system. Among Warshawsky’s claims was that Judges on average were awarding “70% of the claims before them.” Hiltzik took a closer look at the numbers cited by Warshawsky, and came to very different conclusions. For instance, the 70% [...]

Options for Future Changes to Social Security

Millions of Americans rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. With the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund on course to become insolvent by the close of 2016, numerous policy changes have been proposed to ensure that the SSDI program continues to serve eligible applicants. Some proposals would result in an increase in the number of funds entering the DI Trust Fund. Here is a brief look at a few of those proposals. Payroll Tax Rate and Taxable Earnings Cap The Social Security program is funded by payroll taxes deducted from employee paychecks and matched [...]

Rising Number of Social Security Disability Applications

Headlines regarding Social Security Disability often point to the increased number of disability applications that have occurred in the last decade.  Statistics from the Social Security Administration website report that there were 1,895,521 applications for disability filed in 2003, and in 2013, there were 2,640,100 applications filed.[1]  These numbers may appear startling and lead to the question, “Why are there so many more applications?”  Contrary to popular misconceptions, there are many practical and legitimate reasons behind the rising number of disability filings.  As a starting point, the U.S. population is both growing and aging.  As [...]