As many Ohio residents may be aware, and as this blog has previously touched on, there is growing concern about the solvency of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Because the system has been paying out more than it collects through payroll taxes, there is a possibility that there will be a shortfall in funding in the near future. This would mean that many people who rely on the disability payments to make ends meet because of an illness or injury that prevents them from working might be facing cuts in the amount of their benefits. Now, to add to the problem, a watchdog group claims that the Social Security Administration (SSA) may have made nearly $17 billion in over-payments over a 10 year period.
The SSA’s Inspector General’s office initiated the study in 2003 and followed a representative sample of SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries for the next decade. The auditors found that about 45 percent received an over-payment at some point during that period. Extrapolated to the entire set of program beneficiaries these errors amount to somewhere around $16.8 billion in over-payments. The Inspector General’s report did find that the administration recouped about $8 billion of those payments, albeit after delays that sometimes measured in years. For its part, an SSA spokesperson pointed out that for 2013, 99.8 percent of all program payments were over-payment free.
Estimates are that unless congress takes some palliative action, the trust fund that supports SSDI benefits will be out of money in late 2016. This means that all beneficiaries in the program would be facing an automatic 19 percent cut in the amount of benefits they receive. Congress could still forestall such a result by moving some funds from the general Social Security trust fund to the one that supports disability payments. However, legislators so far have preferred to talk about long-term solutions, rather than a quick-fix.
The disability benefits process can be complicated, and those seeking them may become fearful of the potential shortfall. With that in mind, those who are looking to apply for disability, or who have questions about what to expect from the application process, may wish to consider consulting an experienced Ohio disability attorney.
Source: nbc4i.com, “Report: Social Security overpaid disability benefits by $17B,” Stephen Ohlemacher, June 5, 2015