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Will the Social Security Disability Program Go Bankrupt?

The House Oversight Sub-Committee on Energy, Policy, Health Care and Entitlements recently conducted a probe into the Social Security Administration’s Disability program. Investigators made startling findings that must be addressed in order to prevent the program from eventually going bankrupt. Based on the projected rate of increase of benefits and mismanagement of program resources, the disability program could run out of money by 2016.

Applications for benefits inundate disability programs

Both the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs saw a 25 percent increase in the number of claims for benefits since the recession hit in 2007. In 2012 alone, approximately 3.2 million people submitted claims. Aging baby boomers may account for part of the increase, since they are becoming disabled but haven’t reached retirement age.

Social Security uses a strict standard to determine eligibility. In order to qualify for benefits, you must prove you have a recognized disability that will either prevent you from working for at least one year or result in death. The Social Security field office denies most claims. Yet, a strikingly high number of applications are approved on the appeal level after being rejected at the field or state office. Some administrative law judges — who conduct the second level of appeal — approve 75 percent of the cases they review.

Backlog on continuing disability reviews

The Social Security Administration reports that it currently has a backlog of 1.3 million in the programs’ follow-up reviews. Continuing disability reviews (CDRs) are conducted periodically to ensure that recipients still qualify for benefits. Due in part to funding cuts, Social Security only conducted 443,000 reviews last year. House investigators suggest that many recipients are receiving benefits for which they are not eligible.

Based on June 2013 data, the disability program pays out $10 billion in benefits, which amounts to an average of $1,129 monthly benefits to 8.9 million disabled workers. The Social Security trust fund administrators warn that benefits may need to be cut by 20 percent if Congress does not act. President Obama included $1.5 billion in next years’ proposed budget to aid the struggling program.

Whether you are submitting a first time application or appealing a denial of disability benefits, you can rely on competent legal advice from an experienced Arkansas disability attorney.

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