Urging the U.S. Senate to Ensure Continuation of Disability Benefits
February 12, 2015
In early January, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a rule that has caused a great deal of concern in the nearly 11 million Americans – including many with multiple sclerosis (MS) – who rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The rule makes it more difficult to transfer funds between Social Security programs further threatening the soundness of SSDI which is expected to become insolvent in 2016 (largely due to long-term demographic trends including an aging workforce). If Congress takes no remedy to address these barriers, SSDI beneficiaries could face benefit cuts of up to 20 percent by the end of 2016. The average monthly SSDI benefit for someone with a disability is $1,140, just over the poverty line and often enough to sustain only the basic necessities of life. Immediately after this House rule went into effect, the National MS Society – in partnership with about 50 other national disability organizations – sent a letter to all members of Congress about our concern.
On Wednesday, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing titled, “The Coming Crisis: Social Security Disability Trust Fund Insolvency.” Witnesses included Acting Social Security Commissioner, Carolyn Colvin. The Society and other disability advocacy organizations again joined forces in a statement for the record, urging Congress to expeditiously allow for easier transfer of money between Social Security funds. A temporary shift of Social Security’s incoming revenues to the Disability Insurance fund – called “reallocation” – will extend the fund’s solvency for almost two decades without cutting coverage, eligibility or benefits – and without increasing taxpayer contributions. Congress has made similar shifts 11 times in the past, almost equally increasing the percentage of Social Security revenues going into one fund or the other. Under reallocation, the solvency of the overall Social Security system stays the same, with the combined funds remaining fully solvent through 2033.
For a Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities fact sheet on Social Security’s disability programs, please click here.