(businessweek.com) For years, members of Congress have dithered over how to shore up the rapidly dwindling coffers of Social Security and Medicare. Yet chances are you haven’t heard any dire warnings about another massive entitlement program that will soon go insolvent if Congress doesn’t act. That’s because lawmakers have studiously avoided talking about it—and aren’t likely to this election year.
The pot of money the Social Security Administration is using to cover disability insurance is projected to run dry in 2016. That means more than 9 million out-of-work disabled Americans, plus their spouses and children, who also qualify for benefits, would see their checks shrink 21 percent. (Incoming payroll taxes will cover 79 percent of the benefit.) President Obama didn’t address the looming shortfall in his 2012 budget. Nor did House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). That both parties are ignoring the issue aggravates Republican Senator Tom Coburn (Okla.), one of the few lawmakers who wants the program overhauled. “Nobody wants to touch things where they can be criticized,” he complains.
The disability rolls have swollen 23 percent since 2007, in part because of the bad economy. Many people who can’t find work exhaust their unemployment benefits, then turn to disability for assistance—not always legitimately. The benefit pays an average $1,111 a month per worker.
- Social Security disability insolvent unless Congress votes (bangordailynews.com)