What are some of the problems with the SSDI system?
After Congress approved a stop-gap measure to preserve SSDI benefits in last year's budget negotiations, cuts in disability benefits may be back on the table this year. This comes as no surprise in light of the fact that Social Security has long-been a hot button issue on Capitol Hill.
Who Does SSDI Protect?
SSDI provides a safety net to families who are struggling financially when a family member cannot work due to an injury or illness. The amount of the benefit depends upon a number of factors, such as the individual's lifetime earnings as well as any other benefits he or she is receiving. While the program is designed to provide financial support, there are a number of problems with the system. The application process can be long and complicated, and many claims are denied for a variety of reasons. These problems add to the Social Security Administration's funding woes that were only temporarily addressed in 2015.
The Proposed Cuts
A report recently released by the SSA trustee indicated that if Congress fails to act this year, beneficiaries may face cuts of almost 20 percent in their payments. Despite lawmakers' budget compromise last year, the trustee contends that the future of the SSDI program is uncertain. As has widely been reported, the disability trust fund will be depleted by the end of this year.
As Congress continues to drag its feet in resolving the problem, the benefits of many disabled individuals are hanging in the balance. Some estimates indicate that cuts to the SSDI program would have an impact on 10.9 million Americans who are currently receiving benefits. Meanwhile, comprehensive Social Security reform remains a hot potato. Given that 2016 is an election year, one would think this would be a leading campaign issue. But the candidates on both sides of the aisle seem to have other priorities.
While current recipients may be facing drastic cuts by the end of 2016, the funding shortfall of SSDI is also a problem for individuals who have applied for benefits or those who may suffer an injury in the future. Given the long delays in SSDI approvals, the frequency of denials, and the potential for cuts to the program, beneficiaries and applicants need an attorney by their side more than ever.