SSDI funding battle may be looming

Even though millions of people across the United States — including in Tennessee — rely on Social Security Disability Income, the program is going broke. The problem is not new. For years, Congress and other officials have known that SSDI lacks proper funding to operate at its current capacity forever. In fact, experts say that the program will officially be out of money in 2016 if no changes are made.

This is difficult news for the 160,000 spouses, two million children and nine million workers that rely on disability benefits each year. Without action from Congress, these people are likely to experience significant benefit cuts — around 20 percent.

Many people have speculated that Congress will just shift money from the retirement portion of the Social Security program in order to fund the SSDI program. However, the House of Representatives just made that a lot harder. They passed a rule that stops Congress from shifting funds to the SSDI program from the general Social Security Trust Fund without making major changes to the SSDI program. Therefore, under this new rule, unless changes — like tax increases or cutting benefits — are made that stabilize the weakened Social Security program, no money can be moved around.

Some see this as an opportunity to overhaul the entire Social Security system. Others have noted that these procedural rules can be over-ridden in some cases. Either way, changes to the SSDI program may occur this year.

Despite its financial challenges, SSDI remains an important program for many of America’s workers. Tennessee workers who become disabled, need to understand their right to SSDI benefits. These benefits can become a financial lifeline to those who are unable to work.

Source: Forbes, “The Coming Congressional War Over Social Security Disability,” Howard Gleckman, Jan. 7, 2015