Since 2007, the Social Security Disability program has seen rapid growth. However, the program's costs have also exceeded its revenue for the last 4 years. That shortfall may jeopardize the benefits received by 11 million Americans, or result in additional complications in an area of law that many applicants already find difficult.
According to a recent projection, the disability program's reserves may be exhausted as early as 2016. In contrast, the separate trust fund reserves of Social Security retirement and Medicare are not projected to run out until 2035 and 2024, respectively.
The disability program may have to cut benefits once its reserve is depleted. That's because the program -- which is funded by the Social Security payroll tax taken out of workers' paychecks -- is barred from running a deficit. According to one estimate, incoming revenue will cover only about 79 percent of the program's costs. Therefore, after current reserves are exhausted, the program may be forced to find ways to match the benefit payouts with its revenue stream.
Some fear that the program will make ends meet by making eligibility for disability benefits more restrictive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a listing of conditions that qualify for disability assistance. In recent years, that definition has expanded to include people suffering from conditions once viewed as ineligible or too subjective to qualify for disability assistance, including depression, back pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome. That trend may be reversed if the SSA is forced to put the program's budget back in the black.
If your application for disability benefits was denied and you are unsure whether you should seek an appeal, an attorney can advise you on your available options. The law permits the SSA to consider other factors that may help your case, such as past work experience, severity of medical conditions, age, education, and work skills. An attorney can help you to prepare your best case.
Source: Newsmax, "Social Security Disability Seen Insolvent Unless Congress Votes," May 29, 2012