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House seems reluctant to keep SSD fund afloat past 2016

Time is growing short for Congress to find a way to keep the Social Security Disability program, but so far this session, doing so does not appear to be a big priority. If nothing is done, your SSD payments could be cut by 20 percent next year.

Shortly after the new Congress was sworn in for the session, the House adopted a parliamentary rule that makes it more difficult to reallocate money between the SSD fund, which is used to help people too disabled to keep working, and the Social Security fund used to pay people after they retire.

As the Washington Post explains, Congress has historically treated money in the two funds as easily transferrable. Whenever SSD or Social Security’s pot ran low, lawmakers would shift some money from the other.

Today, Social Security is solvent, but the SSD program could run out of money as soon as 2016. If Congress shifted enough money into SSD, there would be enough to keep both pots solvent through 2033. If it doesn’t, the Social Security Administration could have to reduce recipient’s benefits by about a fifth.

Besides making a short-term solution more difficult to do, it is not clear there is the will in Congress to reallocate money into SSD without also making fundamental changes to the program. One lawmaker referred to SSD as “the fraud-plagued disability program.”

The Post notes that the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office reports that 0.4 percent of SSD beneficiaries were working before or after they were approved. A report by the SSA’s inspector general concluded that administrative law judges who approved an unusually high number of SSD claims accounted for another 0.4 percent of the total.

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