Aug 2015

Providence Workers Watch for SSD “Reforms” That Could Slash Benefits

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyBy the fourth quarter of 2016, the Social Security Disability trust fund is going to hit a budget shortfall. This trust fund is separate from the retirement benefits trust fund and the money within it provides benefits to almost 11 million disabled people throughout the United States. Those who receive disability benefits depend upon the income from the trust fund. Unfortunately, if something is not done, the shortfall will leave only enough to pay about 80 percent of current benefits. This means a 20 percent benefits cut, through no fault of those who are counting on SSD for income.

The Washington Post reports both Democrats and Republicans are in agreement that such a benefit cut would be damaging and arbitrary and must be avoided. The problem, however, is there is no consensus on how to avoid benefit cuts to the disabled who depend upon SSD for income. While some argue for a simple reallocation of funds from the retirement trust fund to the disability trust fund, there are many other loud voices calling for reforms to SSD (and possibly even to the Social Security program as a whole).

A Social Security Disability lawyer knows far too often when politicians attempt to reform programs, it ends up meaning benefit cuts occur and the vulnerable are harmed as a result. As the debate rages regarding what steps to take to prevent the 20 percent benefit cut which could come at the end of 2016, the disabled advocates will need to watch carefully and object vocally to any indication of cuts to the SSD program harming those who depend upon it.

SSD Reforms Create Risk of Benefit Cuts

Back in 1983, substantive changes were made to the Social Security system because the trust fund was expected to run out of money that year. These changes were influenced by a committee created in the 1980’s. The changes included raising the payroll tax, but also doing things like raising the retirement age and imposing a partial tax on Social Security benefits. In other words, the people who were depending upon Social Security ended up losing out and paying the price for budget shortfalls.

There is danger history will repeat itself. Currently, an op-ed in The Hill argues that simply reallocating funds would be a missed opportunity. Instead the program should be reformed.

The McCrery-Pomeroy SSDI Solutions Initiative, an initiative organized by a former republican and former democratic representative with a combined 40-years in Congress, aims to offer lawmakers a series of proposals to help shore up the financially-troubled trust fund. The proposals include things like changing the eligibility rules, which are described as outdated, and changing the adjudication system for appeals.

There is a very real possibility proposed changes could result in less people getting benefits or less benefits being paid out. This would be a tragedy for those depending upon SSD to make their monthly bills and pay their medical costs.

Contact a Providence disability lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at 508-677-4900 or visit http://www.dgklaw.com to schedule your free consultation. Serving Coventry, Warwick, Providence and surrounding areas.

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