Upon convening on Tuesday, January 5, 2015, the House of Representatives launched an attack on Social Security. Specifically, the House approved a rule that will seriously undermine efforts to keep all of Social Security solvent.
The rule hampers an otherwise historically routine reallocation of Social Security payroll tax income from the old-age program to the disability program. Such a reallocation has taken place 11 times since 1968, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Importance of Reallocating the Disability Trust Fund
Such a reallocation is also especially important now, because the disability trust fund is expected to run dry as early as 2016. At that point, without a reallocation, benefits to millions of disabled Americans will have to be cut. Reallocation of trust funds will keep both the old-age and disability programs solvent for decades—it is estimated until 2033—giving Congress plenty of time to work out long-term solutions.
How the Change Will Impact Disabled Americans
The procedural rule adopted essentially prohibits any reallocation of funds unless it is accompanied by benefit cuts or tax increases that improve the solvency of the combined trust funds. In practical terms, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare says this rule makes the necessary reallocation to preserve the disability benefits program impossible. It is impossible because Congress cannot agree on the tax increases or cuts in benefits that are now necessary before any reallocation can happen.
The President of the Committee, Max Richtman, wrote an open letter on Jan. 6, 2015, which pointed out that the only purpose of this unprecedented change in House rules was “to cut benefits for Americans who have worked hard all their lives, paid into Social Security and rely on their Social Security benefits, including Disability Insurance, in order to survive.”
As Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times pointed out in his January 6th article, which I have relied upon extensively, “The rule change reflects the burgeoning demonization of disability recipients, a trend we’ve reported on in the past. It’s been fomented by conservative Republicans and abetted by sloppy reporting by institutions such as NPR and “60 Minutes”.
In fact the Disability program has stringent requirements to be approved and is a vital safety net for disabled American workers. As the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives and others have pointed out, “DISABILITY DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE”. We are all vulnerable to disabling illnesses or accidents.
I urge people to let your representative to Congress to know that you oppose this rule and support the Social Security Administration’s disability benefits program.
For More Information, Contact Us
If you are interested in learning more about the SSA’s disability benefits program and how you may be impacted by potential changes in law, contact us. We have experiences in all areas of disability law, including Social Security disability.