Social Security has been getting lots of negative press recently. There's the backlog, which has generated a lot of media coverage, including posts in this blog. Then there's the issue of solvency. Lots of pundits have been claiming that the Social Security trust fund is almost empty and won't be able to pay workers' retirement or Social Security Disability. In both cases, the truth is much more nuanced and complicated.
The Social Security Administration has been making changes that should streamline its paper-based processes and reduce the backlog. And its financial situation is much better than some people would have you believe. What's the real story?
The trustees of Social Security recently released their 2013 report outlining the health of the system. What do people need to know about this report? What's the truth? A summary of the trustees' key findings appears below.
1. Social Security is not broken. With some minor adjustments, it can continue to pay full benefits to retired and disabled workers for many generations to come.
2. Social Security old age pensions are fully funded until 2033. The disability portion is solvent until 2016 IF there are no adjustments to how the disability is funded. If Congress takes no action, the fund will be able to pay around 80 percent of current disability benefits.
3. The increase in the number of people receiving both old age pensions and SSD has been predicted for many years. This is not new, and is primarily a result of aging baby boomers reaching retirement age or experiencing disabilities toward the end of their working years.
4. Congress needs to reallocate payroll taxes received to cover the shortfall in the disability insurance trust fund. It has done so nearly a dozen times in the past - from old age to sSD and from SSD to old age. Doing this now would keep all of Social Security fully funded until 2033.
5. Surveys show that Americans continue to value Social Security. Demonizing the system and those who receive benefits has not been very successful. Surveys also show that Americans are willing to pay for retirement security and disability insurance.
6. Those who attack SSD suggest that unworthy people are living the good life because of the monthly payments they receive from the government. SSD payments average around $1,100 each month. Most recipients of SSD benefits rely on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. There is no place in the United States where someone can be rich on around $13,000 per year. However, with care and planning, people can live with dignity because of the modest benefits they receive.
7. If SSD and old age pensions were cut significantly, there would be immediate and serious consequences to the economic and social health of our nation.
This summary of the most recent Social Security trustees' report was brought to you by Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. If you are having trouble with your application for SSD benefits, do what hundreds of thousands of others have done. Call Binder & Binder® from anywhere in the United States to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you.
Source: Huffington Post, "The Social Security 2013 Trustees Report Is Out... But What Does It Mean for People With Disabilities? Eight Things You Need to Know," Jun. 3, 2013.