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SSDI's trust fund is running on fumes

Beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program here in Ohio are probably concerned by the recent news from Washington. Congressional testimony reiterated the fact that without a change in the funding formula for the SSDI program, the trust fund that contributes part of the benefit payment will become insolvent next year.

This could be catastrophic for SSDI beneficiaries in Ohio and across the nation. The chief actuary for the Social Security Administration (SSA) said that without the changes that only Congress can make, the program would have to make a 20 cut to benefit payment.

That significant of a cut for most disabled workers would cause great difficulty financially, and would push some recipients' income below the poverty line. For healthy individuals such low income is difficult to deal with, but for the disabled it can bring nearly insurmountable challenges.

The SSDI program faces many challenges, as it struggles with backlogs in processing claims, funding problems, accusations of fraud and long-term growth. The program has many more beneficiaries today than it did in the early seventies, but many of those factors are structural and were expected.

What may not have been expected, but was certainly predictable, is the reluctance of the members of Congress to deal with the issue in a straightforward manner.

Whatever the potential reforms critics of the program may suggest, this funding issue needs to be dealt with sooner, rather than later, to prevent the turning of abstract ideological arguments into concrete hardships for millions of SSDI beneficiaries.

Source: ThinkAdvisor.com, "Social Security Disability Fund Teeters on Brink of Broke," Melanie Waddell, July 24, 2014

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