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Gathering storm: Social Security disability funds set to dry up

Over the last several years, there has been significant discussion and debate over the notion that the Social Security retirement benefit program will not have adequate funding down the road. Interestingly enough, the fund established for the Social Security disability program is actually headed toward a financial crisis much sooner -- in four years. This news is set to impact everyone in Michigan who receives these necessary payments.

If nothing is done to solve this looming problem, benefit recipients will see a 21 percent across-the-board cut in their monthly payments. Over 11 million citizens and their loved ones will be affected by this benefit cut. This could be devastating those who are already on a fixed income.

Many members of the baby boom generation are expected be accepted into the SSD program before they reach the age of requirement for retirement benefits. Much like the Social Security program for retirees, disability benefits will be swamped by a large pool of applicants and approvals. Already, the overall number of benefit recipients has climbed by 23 percent since 2007.

Observers say the reason this issue hasn't been talked about is that politicians -- from both sides of the political aisle -- fear the political implications for taking action. Despite this news, one lawmaker indicated that they could borrow money from other parts of the budget to cover the funding gap. There is no indication as to how permanent that fix would be for the program.

Whatever happens with the Social Security disability fund, it is important to remember that millions of Americans and their families rely on this income to make up for wages lost due to a debilitating mental or physical condition. Furthermore, thousands more will come to need the assistance as the program provides. Hopefully lawmakers will be able to come up with a solution that will keep the Social Security Administration financially solvent for the long term.

Despite talk of budget shortfalls, Michigan residents living with a disability shouldn't feel discouraged to apply for benefits. Payments are still being disbursed to those who need them. Though the process can take some time to navigate, the assistance monthly benefits offer often makes a huge difference for families struggling to make ends meet.

Source: The Washington Post, "Social Security disability trust fund projected to run out of cash by 2016," Brian Faler, May 30, 2012

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