Social Security Disability benefits continue to be used as political fodder, even as people’s lives depend upon being able to receive enough income from SSD to pay for rent, food and other necessary expenses.
The Social Security Disability trust fund is, on paper, set to run short as early as 2016, necessitating a benefits cut. However, Social Security Disability attorneys in New York know that this is far from the whole story. The reality is that a routine transfer of funds from the retirement system to the Social Security Disability system could allow both programs to remain solvent for almost two decades without any further changes. These transfers have been done in the past without issue, but have become a big issue now.
President Obama has made some suggestions in his 2016 budget that, thankfully, do not involve cutting benefits. While it is unclear if any of his proposals will be adopted in this political climate, at least they open the door to dialogue that doesn’t involve making the disabled suffer a loss of benefits they need.
Proposals to “Save” Disability Benefits
According to The Fiscal Times, the proposals that the President has made in his budget include:
- Shoring up the trust fund for SSDI by reallocating some revenue. Under the current system, employees pay 6.2 percent of wages to Social Security. A total of .9 percent of these taxes are allocated to SSDI and the remainder is allocated to retirement funds. President Obama has suggested reallocating a few tenths of a percentage points more to SSDI.
- Trying to keep people in the workplace longer using early intervention strategies. People who have a disability that could potentially limit their work would be provided with supportive services and employers would be given incentives to retain those with disabilities and find a way to keep them in the workforce.
- Hiring more administrative law judges. A huge number of people who need SSD benefits and whose claims have been denied are spending months or even years waiting to have an administrative law judge review their appeals. Hiring more judges could help to ensure that people who need benefits are able to get them in a more timely manner.
- Provide more funding for continuing disability review. People who are on benefits need to have their status reviewed periodically to ensure they still qualify. The President believes that providing more money could improve this program and save as much as $32 billion.
- Stopping the practice of people claiming both unemployment and Social Security Disability benefits. This would reduce a person’s SSDI benefits if he was also receiving unemployment at the time.
Some of these proposals, like hiring more judges, could not only help to keep the program solvent but could also help to ensure that the money set aside to help the disabled is being spent effectively.
As discussions continue to try to make sure that a major benefit cut does not devastate the disabled, it is important to consider proposals like these that aim to protect an important social safety net program.
If you have suffered a disability in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717 or by visiting http://www.workerslaw.com.