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By Scott B. Elkind, Esq.

The Social Security Administration’s press release for July, 2015, reveal a more promising picture. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) are projected to become depleted in 2034, a year later than expected. Even then, benefits are predicted to be payable at the 78% level. Assets increased $25B to a total of $2.79T. Whereas, the cost to administrate these funds constitutes 0.7% of total expenditure. The Disability Insurance Trust is still predicted to become depleted in 2016 with 81% of benefits still payable. The Acting Social Security Commissioner urged Congress to allow reallocation between funds in order to avoid cuts to disability insurance beneficiaries who can least afford them.

SSA has also announced its Vision 2025 initiative which will address the three key long-term planning priorities of superior customer experience, exceptional employees, and innovative organization.

SSA still remains without a full Commissioner as Congressional Republicans has held up confirmation hearings since 2013.

The good news was reflected in a single sentence in the Wall Street Journal on 7/23/15 in an article entitled “U.S. Disability Program Nearly Broke.” This article quoted Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew who reiterated the position that the disability shortfall should be addressed by Congress through asset reallocation. Republican SSA Trustee, Charles Blahous, stated that there were “no real big surprises. We have lost another year to inaction.”

As has been the case in most political battles of late, the Congress will remain deadlocked with no action to be taken until forced to do so. The Republican operatives are seeking to cut entitlement programs and has the Disability Insurance Program in its sights. This situation has been made part of a potential “grand bargain” to address the nation’s long-term deficits. Although there may be “bargaining,” it could never be called “grand.” In the end, patchwork fixes should be expected with no real problems addressed as has been the custom. It is unfortunate in this case as reallocation would alleviate any urgency to the situation. Rather, pressure will be made to bear and force a bad situation on the disabled who are nearly powerless to defend their interests.

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