2017 – that is the year that a series of articles over the past week have referred to as the year that Social Security disability programs will run out of money. That could spell disaster for the significant number of Americans who rely on disability benefits to make ends meet. The Associated Press reported that about 13.6 million receive disability benefits. Those numbers break down further into 7.6 million receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits, 4.4 million receiving Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits and 1.6 million receiving both.
Journalists point to two main causes of the 2017 bankruptcy – new applicants and financial mismanagement. The difficult economic times of late have led more to apply to receive disability benefits than in the past. Unable to land a job and suffering from a disability lead people to take a shot at applying for disability benefits, which is part of the reason some appeals now take two years or more.
The recent deficit deal spared disability benefits from cuts, but it did not do anything to fix the long term problem. Congress and the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) have to do something to avoid the catastrophe that would occur if 2017 comes and the SSA has to start paying out less than full benefits. Many beneficiaries have enough trouble surviving off of benefits now. A cut in benefits would be disastrous.
A big concern is that lawmakers will make cuts that overreach and affect legitimate beneficiaries as well as people taking advantage of the system. For example, one proposed cut would eliminate SSI benefits for children, amidst reports that some families deliberately put their children on powerful psychotropic drugs in order to be eligible for federal benefits. Eliminating those benefits entirely would do a lot more harm than it would good.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers