The Atlantic describes it as the next ticking time bomb in American health policy, but last year politicians may have added a little time to that ticking clock. Congress approved a program that would allow the Social Security Disability Insurance program to pull funds from the Social Security retirement fund in order to keep the program from running out of money, but this may just be a Band-Aid on a very large wound.
Can Washington Save SSDI?
When it was discovered that the SSDI trust fund would begin to run dry in 2016, politicians didn’t make a big fuss. An election year was coming and SSDI isn’t the most glamorous political issue, and so most lawmakers have ignored it. However, the seriousness of the problem did merit a response, and the Social Security Retirement fund—which currently has enough funds to run for several years—was tapped to make up the difference in the SSDI trust, but several factors make this patch temporary.
What Problems Need Solutions?
The number of people enrolling in SSDI is steadily rising. Experts say this is due to the increased presence of women in the workforce and an aging population. Despite these increases, the Social Security Administration has kept spending increases to around .3 percent of the gross domestic product since 1980. So how can the SSDI system accommodate these new enrollees and balance the budget?
How Are We Solving These Problems?
Some politicians suggest that reducing fraud is the answer, but there is already so little fraud when it comes to SSDI. The application and screening process is so strict that nearly half the people who try to enroll are rejected, and many of those who are rejected have no options for employment after going through the long process. Some experts believe that requiring companies to provide private disability insurance would take some of the pressure off. Others suggest tightening up the eligibility system and hiring more administrative law judges to relieve current workloads and wait times, but new judges have lower approval rates.