Social Security Disability Fund Shortfall Solution Becomes New GOP Hostage in Congressional Debate

Posted Aug. 19, 2015

MP3 Interview with Eric Kingson, co-director of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, conducted by Scott Harris

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As the nation's popular Social Security system celebrated its 80th birthday on Aug. 14, the program signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935 faced a new challenge. The annual report issued by Social Security's trustees in late July warned, "Social Security's Disability Insurance Trust Fund now faces an urgent threat of reserve depletion, requiring prompt corrective action by lawmakers if sudden reductions or interruptions in benefit payments are to be avoided." The report assured the public that Social Security's retirement fund will remain solvent until 2035 without further adjustments, a year later than previously estimated.

Although congressional legislators had anticipated the need to replenish the Disability Insurance Trust Fund in 2016, the last time they had adjusted the program in 1994, a new hostage situation appears to be underway in Washington. Republican lawmakers are resisting implementing a simple solution to the Disability Fund shortfall, that would redirect tax revenue from the retirement fund to the disability fund as has been done in the past. But without congressional action, 11 million of the nation's disabled workers will face a 19 percent cut to their benefit payments by the end of 2016.

Congressional Democrats accuse the GOP of manufacturing an artificial crisis in order to force through unpopular changes to Social Security that could include an increase in the retirement age and/or benefit cuts. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Eric Kingson, co-director of the Strengthen Social Security campaign, who discusses the current debate in Congress over adjustments necessary to ensure that the Social Security disability fund won't be forced to make major benefit cuts.

Learn more about the Strengthen Social Security campaign’s work to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid at strengthensocialsecurity.org.

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