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SSDI may face its own fiscal cliff

Following the general election, much of the nation's political debate has centered around the forecasted "fiscal cliff" that may threaten the U.S. economy on the first of the new year. The combined effects of expiring tax cuts and mandatory spending cuts could freeze a still-fledgling economic recovery, creating undue hardship for many American families and possibly setting off a second recession.

Now, an extended look into the nation's finances has revealed that another serious fiscal crisis could be on the horizon for millions of Americans: the insolvency of the Social Security Disability fund. The trust fund that currently funds the program's 9 million recipients is predicted to run dry by 2016. Disabled residents of Houston, greater Texas, and the entire nation will see monthly support checks disappear entirely if strong changes are not made.

The problem is primarily on account of the way in which funds for the program were initially procured. In a previous time of surplus, special bonds and non-marketable IOUs from the U.S. Treasury were invested in and designated specifically for Social Security disability funding. Those bonds and IOUs stand to be depleted in less than four years.

One possible solution for this future crisis involves the subsidizing of employment for SSDI recipients. Through a program in which government aid funds employees' health costs, disabled persons would be able to return to work in some real capacity, offering both a boon to economic output and a widened tax base for future Social Security funding.

Another proposal for a more streamlined, sustainable disability aid program is a marked scaling-back eligibility for recipients, making it more difficult for a disabled person to receive benefits and effectively shrinking the program's payment base. However, a plan like this could very well remove the SSDI safety net for thousands or even millions who depend upon it.

As the financial future of many citizens is decided by politicians in Washington, the future of the Social Security Disability program may come to be quite different than its current form. As laws, payment structures, and eligibility guidelines shift, a Social Security attorney can help procure or maintain proper assistance for those unable to work.

Source: Policy Mic, "Fiscal Cliff 2013: The Most Critical Part of the Debt Crisis That No One is Talking About," Rick Matthews, Nov. 27, 2012

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