Is the Social Security Disability Program Facing Insolvency?
Over the past few years, Social Security’s disability program has seen an increase in applications, largely due to the loss of almost 7 million jobs in the economy. Applications for Social Security generally increase when the economy is bad, because many disabled people lose their jobs and are unable to find work. In 2011, Social Security is expecting 3.3 million applicants for disability benefits. The number of applications has increased 50% in the last ten years. The increased number of applicants has added to Social Security’s backlog of cases, and many applicants wait at least two years before their case is decided.
New estimates predict that the Social Security disability trust fund will be depleted by 2017. This means the disability program will not be able to pay beneficiaries their full benefits in 2017, unless Congress takes action. Social Security trustees are recommending that Congress reallocate money from the Social Security retirement program to the disability program. However, diverting money from the retirement program would only be a short-term solution and would hurt the retirement program.
Congress will likely have to make improvements to the Social Security disability program. Lawmakers are particularly concerned about overpayments. In 2010, Social Security disability beneficiaries received $1.4 billion in overpayments. Most of these payments went to people who started working and should not have qualified for the payments. Under the debt reduction plan that became law in early August, Congress can increase Social Security’s budget by $4 billion over the next ten years. The increased budget will provide resources for Social Security to identify beneficiaries who no longer qualify for benefits. Congress is also concerned about the lengthy application process for legitimately disabled applicants.
Stephen Ohlemacher, Social Security Disability on Verge of Insolvency, https://m.apnews.mobi/ap/db_6776/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=pDMRHiaX (accessed August 23, 2011).