Social Security Disability Program Funds Dwindling, Will Run Out by 2017

New congressional estimates put the Social Security disability benefits funds at “empty” by 2017, which will render the program unable to pay full benefits unless Congress acts, reports The Fiscal Times. This news comes after a previous report that the Social Security retirement program will exhaust its funds by 2036.

Laid-off workers and increasing numbers of aging Baby Boomers drawing upon the system contribute to the projected shortfalls. Applications for the disability program’s benefits are up nearly 50% since 10 years ago.

Currently, more than 54 million people collect retirement, disability, or survivor benefits from the program, and this number is expected to rise to 71 million in ten years’ time. About 3.3 million people are expected to apply for federal disability benefits this year, 700,000 more than in 2008, and 1 million more than a decade ago.

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By 2021, Social Security will have $1.3 trillion in expenditures, says the Congressional Budget Office.

The trustees who oversee Social Security are urging Congress to “shore up the system,” by reallocating money from the retirement program to the disability program, says The Fiscal Times. However, this would only provide a short term fix, especially as claims for disability benefits typically go up when disabled people are laid off and can’t get re-employed.

The poor economy isn’t the only factor in rising numbers of disability benefits applications; as the population ages, seniors are more likely to become disabled and apply for the program.

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While most agree that the system needs changing to accommodate a substantial increase in applications, there isn’t a consensus on how to fix the program, says The Fiscal Times, mentioning some organizations’ suggestions and recommendations.

Read the full article here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace