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Does SSDI need a disability program?

Just as many of our clients face difficult challenges with their health, which prompts their need for assistance programs like Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), so too, does the Social Security Administration (SSA) face  challenges in the operation of programs like SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The SSDI trust fund is expected to be exhausted within two years. This does not mean that there will be no further SSDI benefit payments after that, as the revenue from the FICA tax is sufficient to fund most of obligation. But not all. Absent action by Congress to fix this funding issue, the SSA will have to make cuts to benefit payments.

The SSA is also frequently criticized for its administration of the programs. Approximately 11 million Americans receive SSDI and SSI benefit payments. The agency receives many new applications for benefits every week. The agency, like most governmental units has been subject to numerous budget cuts and hiring freezes. This leaves them understaffed. This creates a backlog of initial claims.

It also creates a backlog of reviews of existing beneficiaries. The SSA is supposed to perform a review of these claims, to ensure that the beneficiaries are still, in fact, eligible for the benefits they receive.

This is a valid issue, but Congress's complaints strike one a disingenuous, as such reviews can be practically as time consuming as processing an initial claim, and must be handled carefully to prevent the revocation of benefits from the truly disabled.

An official with the SSA pointed out that even if backlog of reviews were completed, any savings would be insufficient to make up for the funding shortfall. 

Source: NewOK.com, "Disability reviews won't save Social Security program from shortfall, official says," Chris Casteel, April 10, 2014

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