Improving Social Security Award Decisions

In April 2012, the Social Security Trustees estimated the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, which supports the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, could be exhausted by 2016, or even 2015. To stave this off, the Trustees suggested that “legislative action is needed as soon as possible.”

Significant stress on the trust fund is due in part to the fact that the number of individuals receiving disability benefits continues to rise at an unprecedented rate. Researchers at the Center for American Progress assert the “program provides strong incentive to applicants and beneficiaries to remain permanently out of the labor force and it provides no incentive to employers to implement cost-effective accommodations that enable employees with work limitations to remain on the job.” These researchers determined that “too many work-capable individuals involuntarily exit the labor force and apply for and often receive Social Security Disability. Such a conclusion raises questions as to whether benefits are going to those Congress intended when it created the disability programs.

Since January 2009, 5.9 million Americans have been awarded SSDI benefits. Economists
estimate that Americans added to the disability rolls could account for as much as a quarter of the two percent drop in the labor force participation rate since 2007. If Congress fails to ensure the financial sustainability of our nation’s disability programs, everyone loses. Taxpayers will be heavier costs; the Social Security Disability Administration will have to do more with less and most worrisome, there will be nothing left to give to those who need it most.

Randy Zeldin, Esq. is a Social Security Disability Attorney representing claimants in Ft.Lauderdale, Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, Florida

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