In recent years, much has been written about the Social Security Administration's disability insurance program. Long attacked by conservatives and defended by liberals, controversy over funding and alleged widespread fraud has plagued the SSDI program which currently pays out monthly benefits to an estimated 8.95 million disabled American workers.
When republicans recently took control of both the House and Senate, one of their first moves was to pass a rules change requiring that any attempt to fund either Social Security's retirement or disability programs "improve the 'actuarial balance' of the combined funds." In other words, Congress is barred from following suit with how the SSDI program has previously been funded and simply appropriating funds from the retirement program.
Without additional funding, the SSDI program will "exhaust its trust fund reserves by December 2016," putting millions at risk of having their monthly benefits cut by nearly 20 percent. While Republicans contend the rules change was made to force members of Congress to finally find a solution to funding the embattled Social Security system, Democrats assert the change is part of a larger plan to actually defund Social Security.
As further proof of some Republican's view of the SSDI program, Sen. Rand Paul was recently taped making disparaging comments by dismissing the ailments of some SSDI recipients as simply cases of "achy backs and anxiety in the morning." Rand followed up these comments by dismissively stating, "Join the club. Who doesn't get up a little anxious for work and their back hurts."
In truth, no one sets out to suffer a debilitating injury or develop a serious medical condition. While the number of SSDI beneficiaries has increased exponentially within the last two decades, more attention should be paid to those factors that may be contributing to an increase in workplace and other types of injuries, mental health conditions and more serious medical conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.