In this election year, there's much discussion about how long Social Security will last. However, almost all this talk is focused on the old age pension benefits that most Americans receive or hope to receive. Apparently overlooked by the hosts of Sunday news shows and talk radio are the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits that provide payments to workers no longer able to hold jobs because of their disabilities.
The number of applications for SSD benefits has skyrocketed in recent years, and the number of workers receiving disability benefits has nearly tripled since 1990. Some pundits point to the bad economy, others to the aging of the U.S. population, still others to the growth in SSD benefits for people with mental illness. Whatever the cause of the increase, the Social Security Administration estimates that the cost of the program will exceed payments from payroll taxes shortly, with the fund totally gone in 2016 if nothing is done.
Both ends of the political spectrum seem to agree that something needs to be done. But exactly what needs to be done is not so clear. Stop penalizing the disabled from working? Increasing payroll taxes? Providing more incentives to employers to hire the disabled?
A recent editorial in the Washington Post encouraged the nation's leaders to work together to deal with this rapidly growing problem, noting that recipients of benefits are not growing rich from SSD payments - the average benefit is about $1,110 per month, leaving one-fourth of recipients below the poverty line. The Post said, "This piece of the safety net needs to be bolstered and modernized, not allowed to unravel."
If you have questions about Social Security Disability benefits, claims or appeals, contact the specialists at Binder & Binder®, the national SSD advocates.
Source: Washington Post, "The tattered safety net for the disabled," May 12, 2012.