“Line in the Sand” Developing over Disability Trust Fund

Posted February 20, 2015 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® The future of the Social Security Disability program has become an increasingly “hot button” topic among congressional Democrats and Republicans alike. This issue could become one of the major running points in the 2016 presidential elections. The contentious positioning is primarily due to the fact that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund has been on a steady decline since 2009. A recent report from the Office of the Inspector General stated that unless Congress takes action the funds could be depleted by 2016. In previous years, Congress would solve this problem by shifting revenues from the larger retirement trust fund into the disability fund. However, the current delegation of House Republicans is attempting to put major restrictions on Congress’ ability to reallocate money between the two funds. Congressional Republicans believe that reallocating will only harm the retirement program while providing a “band aid” to the disability program. If the Disability Insurance Trust Fund becomes insolvent in 2016 it could lead to major cuts in Social Security Disability benefits. While reallocation may not be completely dead as an option, it seems clear that Congressional Republicans will try to require major changes in the program prior to any transfer of funds.

On a positive note, President Obama recently unveiled his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. This budget proposal suggests that the White House is ready to take a firm stance in support of Social Security Disability and Retirement. President Obama proposed a clean allocation between the retirement and survivor’s trust fund and the disability insurance fund. The White House’s plan is to address the current depletion of the Disability Trust Fund using reallocation as a short term solution while Congress works toward a long term fix. To quote the White House’s budget proposal, “The President believes that Social Security is indispensable to workers, retirees, survivors, and people with disabilities and that it is one of the most important and successful programs ever established in the United States.” The Administration specifically stated that they will oppose any efforts to privatize the Social Security system, reduce benefits to future generations, or diminish benefits for current beneficiaries.

There has clearly been a “line in the sand” drawn over the issue of the depleting Disability Trust Fund. It seems clear that Congress and the Administration will need to compromise regarding the issue of reallocation while a more permanent solution can be developed. As a company who specializes in helping disabled workers on a daily basis, we certainly do not agree with any proposal that serves to reduce the benefits to current beneficiaries, or to future generations of disabled workers.

Sources: Politico, Republicans Target Social Security Disability, by David Rogers; The Columbus Dispatch, Congress spars over Social Security, disability funds, by Jessica Wehrman; Forbes, The Coming Congressional War over Social Security Disability, by Howard Gleckman; Politicususa, Obama Stands Firm on Protecting Social Security in 2016 Budget, by Keith Brekhus

By: Thomas A. Klint of Premier Disability Services, LLC®