On July 17, 2015 the White House released a report on the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program. See https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/ssdi_national_report_7-17-2015.pdf
In 2016 the Social Security trust fund will not have enough money to pay full disability benefits. Without Congressional action, disabled workers and their families face an abrupt 19% reduction in disability benefits.
SSDI is an insurance program that workers pay for while working. It is part of the FICA withholding. More than 150 million Americans are covered by this program. Currently 10 million Americans receive disability benefits.
The benefits received are modest. The average disability benefit received is $1,165 per month. These modest benefits are critical to the economic survival of the disabled workers.
The amount the US spends on SSDI as a percent of GDP is quite low in comparison to other developed countries. 26 countries spend a greater % of their GDP helping their disabled, including Israel, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Australia, the UK and Estonia.
On numerous occasions in past years, on a non-partisan basis, Congress has balanced the Social Security trust funds. Unfortunately, for the 1st time in the history of the disability program, its financial solvency has become a partisan issue.
Republicans in Congress assert that fraud is rampant in the disability program. Groups like NOSSCR and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities strongly dispute such allegations. Republicans are insisting that in return for making SSDI solvent, changes making it harder to obtain disability must be adopted.
In past blogs I have discussed what I perceive to be a growing compassion fatigue in the US. Consequently, I suspect the SSDI program will be changed in 2016 making it more difficult to obtain disability benefits as a condition to avoiding reduced payments to current beneficiaries.