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Social Security Disability: Reform is a potential solution

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program that helps people have an income when they no longer have the ability to work. Some individuals who can work a small number of hours use SSD to supplement their income as well.

Social Security Disability is often in the news and is a growing controversy in the United States. It is incredibly expensive, costing $143 billion in 2015 alone. It's also a concern that the Social Security Trust Fund may run out of funds for disability payments by 2022, an issue that could affect thousands upon thousands of people.

Some believe that the answer is to reform the Social Security Disability program. The SSD program requires applicants to be unable to participate in any substantial gainful activity in order to obtain compensation. This is negative in some ways, because it actually encourages applicants to stop working in order to qualify for SSD. They may also not want to go through rehabilitation, because they could lose their health care and cash benefits.

It's believed that only a small number of people who end up on SSD go back into the workforce. It's true that some are unable to, but others may decide not to work on rehabilitation when it could get them back to work in the long run. Reform would aim to help those who could be rehabilitated get back to gainful employment. It would also provide appropriate aid and opportunities for these individuals, if all went to plan. Reform supporters would like to see benefits decrease over time very gradually as the individual begins to earn more from employment.

These changes haven't happened yet, but if they did, it could make it easier for those on SSD to get back to work when possible. For now, those who meet the Social Security Administration's requirements may seek disability and must adhere to limited work requirements.

Source: The Washington Post, "The Social Security disability program needs reform," April 08, 2017

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