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Can Social Security be reformed in time to save disability program?

The Social Security Administration has released its annual report of the financial health of its retirement and disability programs. As with previous reports, the 2004 annual report and news reports about it paint a bleak picture of the financial future of the disability program. But the future of the program could be strengthened with reforms.

The problem: Social Security now takes in less in taxes and other income than it pays out. At the current rate, the retirement program can continue at current rates until 2034. The disability trust fund, which is separate from the retirement program, could run out in two years. Unless Congress acts, the disability program could have to cut benefits. At the current rate, it would only collect enough in pay roll taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits.

Despite reports like this, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says the retirement and disability programs are secure. However, Lew and others agree that Social Security needs reform. Short-term, the disability program could be stabilized by shifting tax revenue from the larger retirement program. By shifting tax revenue, both funds could be stabilized until 2033. Lew has endorsed this approach.

This year's report had one bright spot: Medicare. The trust fund for Medicare will not run out until 2030 - four years later than estimated last year. The cause is due to a slowdown in health care spending.

Medicare is the government-run health insurance program available to both recipients of retirement benefits and recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Trustees: Social Security, Medicare face long-term financial problems despite good news," Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press, July 29, 2014. 

  • Our law firm handles disability claims in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest. For more information, visit our page on SSDI.
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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.


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