Congress will soon have to address impending SSDI budget shortfall

Anyone who follows the news on a regular basis is well aware of how legislative gridlock and brinksmanship has become the new norm on Capitol Hill over the last several years.  To illustrate, consider how lawmakers from both sides of the aisles have battled over issues that were once considered uncontroversial and altogether necessary, such as raising the debt ceiling.

Unfortunately, political experts are now indicating that the Social Security disability program may soon become the next source of political strife, perhaps to the determent of millions of Americans.   

That's because the current reserves for the SSDI trust fund, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, are set to be exhausted by as soon as 2016 unless Congress takes definitive action.

What makes this so problematic, say political experts, is that this deadline falls in the middle of a major election year, meaning it's a prime issue for politicians to seize upon as Americans go to cast their votes.

Specifically, many are predicting that any moves to reallocate the tax rates between the SSDI trust fund and the retirement trust fund -- the other fund run by the SSA -- will be met with an accompanying demand for some sort of reform.

In the event this happens and lawmakers let the SSDI trust fund run out, estimates show that disability benefits would be slashed by 20 percent, a potentially devastating development for the nine million people who currently rely on the program to get by.

To illustrate, consider that while the average monthly amount of SSD benefits is slightly over $1,100, SSA data reveals that over 7 percent of disabled people receive less than $500 per month and nearly 25 percent receive $750-$999 per month. Here, a 20 percent cut -- equal to several hundred dollars -- would make a significant difference for any of these people.

Furthermore, consider also that many people rely on SSD benefits to support their entire family.

"We find that DI payments account for the majority of family income for nearly half of all beneficiaries," reads a 2013 report from the Urban Institute. "Many DI beneficiaries live in poverty."

Given the stakes involved, here's hoping that Congress makes the right decision to keep the SSDI trust fund fully financed for the foreseeable future and beyond.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about the process of securing disability benefits and whether your medical condition will qualify you for the program.

Source: NBC News, "Disabled recipients of Social Security fund face hefty benefits cut," Martha White, June 10, 2014