Tallahassee Journal

Social Security disability payments will be cut by a fifth if Congress doesn’t act

Social Security disability payments will be cut by a fifth if Congress doesn’t act

On the first day of the new Congress, Republicans symbolically bound themselves to what is certain to be a controversial reform of the federal disability insurance program, which would probably occur near the height of the 2016 presidential campaign.imrsimrs

Social Security has two components, the disability insurance program and the much larger Old Age and Survivors Insurance program, for which almost all Americans become fully eligible when they reach retirement age. Congress has historically treated them as one system, moving money between one pot and the other if one is running short on funds and the other has plenty of money.

That’s the situation now, as the disability pot is expected to be empty late next year. There is enough money in the larger pot to last until 2034, or to keep both programs solvent through 2033, according to the Social Security Administration. On Tuesday, however, the House adopted a parliamentary rule that adds a procedural obstacle to reallocating the money.

If Republicans do decide that a transfer is necessary, they can change the rules again easily enough. Still, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) said that a reallocation would be only a temporary solution that would avoid making real changes to “the fraud-plagued disability program.” “It will actually make the retirement program worse off, and it does nothing to fix the disability program,” he said in a statement.