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Lawmaker asks for cooperation in addressing disability trust fund shortfall

Social Security disability benefits are an important resource for thousands of disabled Americans, for whom the continued vitality of the Social Security disability program is critical. This is why it is concerning that the program is facing serious financial challenges in the coming year. As things stand, the program’s trust fund is set to go off the track in 2016, which could result in beneficiaries having their payments cut.

According to a report issued last year by the Social Security Trustee, this could result in benefits being cut by 20 percent. Unless, that is, Congress takes some sort of action to correct the problem. Similar action has been taken before on multiple occasions, in the form of reallocating money. Some lawmakers have taken the issue on as a particularly important one to address, such as Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, who recently called for bipartisan effort to tackle the issue. 

Unfortunately, others—predominantly conservatives—have taken the imminent financial challenges facing the program as an opportunity to attack the Social Security Administration for how it is handling claims and Americans themselves for wanting a free ride. Such criticisms are not completely without merit, but are often misguided, misinformed or both.

It is worth emphasizing that Social Security disability is not a welfare program but a social insurance program. Applicants who meet the stringent qualifications for disability benefit because they paid into the system, not because they were deemed worthy of charity. This is a point which lawmakers and all of us need to keep in mind as the financial challenges of the disability program are (hopefully) addressed in the coming year.

Source:, “Cardin Calls for Bipartisan Effort to Ensure Continued Full Benefits for SSDI,” Sue Walitsky, July 24, 2014. 


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