From: Tim Vrana
Received: July 3
The recent Associated Press article (Judges say Social Security pushes them to approve disability benefits to reduce claims backlog) that ran in The Republic on June 27 was extremely misleading. The sky isn’t falling.
The main reasons for the growth of the Social Security disability program are (1) the aging of baby boomers into years when they are more likely to become disabled, and (2) the large-scale entry of women into the workforce in recent decades, which allows more of them to have the work credits needed to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
This growth in the disability program was expected as far back as 1994. According to the Social Security Administration’s chief actuary, growth in the disability program is set to level off.
Since the Social Security disability program was enacted in the mid-1950s, demographic shifts like this have made it necessary for Congress to shift payroll tax revenues between the two Social Security trust funds nearly a dozen times — about equally in both directions. (Not to raise FICA taxes, but to change slightly how much money goes into the Retirement and Survivor’s trust fund and how much goes into the Disability trust fund.)
In 1994, the last time such a reallocation occurred, SSA actuaries said that similar action would be needed again in 2016. They were right on target.
Social Security disability needs to be there for people in their times of need. Let’s focus on supporting and sustaining this vital system.