It’s healthy to be skeptical in a world of uncertainties. Major news networks sometimes broadcast conflicting facts that require a bit of research to verify. There’s even a day in October dedicated to skeptics. So, this is the perfect time to tell all the skeptics that there’s no reason to think Social Security won’t be here for you well into the future.
Recently, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its 76th annual report to Congress presenting the financial status of the Social Security trust funds for the short term and over the next 75 years. We’re pleased that legislation signed into law by President Obama last November averted a near-term shortfall in the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund that was detailed in a previous report.
With that small, temporary reallocation of the Social Security contribution rate, the DI fund will now be able to pay full benefits until 2023, and the retirement fund will be adequate into 2035. It is important that members of Congress act well before 2023 in order to strengthen the finances of the program. As a whole, Social Security is fully funded until 2034, and after that it is about three-quarters financed.
Many people wonder if Social Security will be there for them. Here’s a fact that will relieve any skepticism you might have: the increased cost of providing Social Security benefits for Baby Boomers is less than the nation’s increase in spending was for public education when the baby boomers were children.
Put your skepticism aside and rest assured that Social Security is with you today and will be with you tomorrow. You can read the entire report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2016.
Providing disability benefits for 60 years
Aug. 1, 2016, marked the 60th anniversary of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Originally, the program was limited to individuals who were age 50 or older. It also had a six-month waiting period, and there were no benefits payable to spouses or children.
The disability program has undergone many changes to become the program it is today. Now, people who receive Social Security disability benefits can also receive Medicare coverage after 24 months, and their dependents may be eligible to receive benefits on their earnings records. There are also work incentives in place to help people with disabilities go back to work.
As of June 2016, there are more than 10 million disabled workers and dependents receiving a portion of the more than $11 billion that is sent each month in Social Security disability payments. It can happen to anyone: studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching their full retirement age.
To meet the challenges of providing benefits to so many, the agency has evolved, using technology to operate more efficiently.
Access to online applications for disability benefits, reconsiderations, and hearings have given applicants more service options when applying for benefits. Our health IT initiative allows Social Security to access electronic medical records, including those from the U.S. Department of Defense, which reduces administrative costs, streamlines operations, and speeds up service to veterans.
Social Security is committed to securing today and tomorrow for our millions of disabled workers. For more information about the disability program, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityssi.
Marcus Geiger is Social Security district manager in Gallipolis, Ohio.