Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio has reacted unhappily to a new rule in the House of Representatives that will make it more difficult to transfer funds between the government’s Social Security retirement account and the Social Security disability account. Brown, along with others from the Senate Democratic leadership, wrote a letter to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the rule is akin to holding the benefits of disabled people hostage, and urged that it be abandoned.
Transfers between the two trust accounts have occurred before, and the most recent one took place in 1994. The transfers have gone both ways, and both major political parties have used the tool to shore up one or the other program. According to opponents of the new rule, the disability benefits of the 11 million people who receive Social Security Disability (SSD) may face cuts as soon as next year without the ability to transfer money. Further, they say that the transfer would have very little effect on the retirement fund because a majority of the people who receive SSD benefits are over 50 years of age.
Supporters of the rule, however, claim that transferring money out of the retirement account puts the solvency of that account at risk, and limiting congressional ability to do so may force Congress to actually address the problems of the Social Security System. They say that the trustees of the accounts have been calling for long-term reform of the system since the mid-90’s, but the legislature has not confronted the issue due to the hard political choices that would have to be made.
Disability insurance is an important safety net for many in Ohio and around the country. Those who cannot work due to a physical or psychological problem count on such benefits to help them survive. While politicians argue about how to fix the problems that exist with the program, people still need to apply for benefits. If you have questions about whether you qualify for SSD or how to go about the process of obtaining it, you may wish to contact an experienced disability attorney.
Source: Columbus Dispatch “Congress spars over Social Security, disability funds ,” Jessica Wehrman, Jan. 19, 2015