Ah, the question everyone loves to debate. It’s true that Social Security will soon start paying out more benefits than it receives in contributions, as the bulk of the baby-boom generation phases into retirement.The government’s official position is that there is enough money saved to pay benefits at the currently scheduled amounts until 2035. The Social Security Administration admits on its Web site that benefits will likely be reduced after that, barring changes that improve the financial strength of the system.
Social Security’s cash flow has been negative since 2010, meaning that the program has paid out more than it takes in via taxes.  Right now it is covering that shortfall with interest on its Treasuries, but that can’t continue indefinitely. While it’s unlikely Congress will do away with Social Security, to close the gap it’s going to have to scale back benefits for future recipients, increase taxes, or both.

My thought is that the benefits will eventually become means-tested, meaning that your benefits may be reduced based upon your household income or assets.  I also see the age that individuals qualify for retirement continuing to be pushed up gradually.

A new study shows that there is often a decline in earnings prior to claims for Disability Insurance Benefits.  The study demonstrates something that’s obvious at ground level — for most disabled people, disability isn’t something that happens all at once. It comes on over the course of years.  Of course, disability can be prompted by a traumatic event such as a heart attack or a car accident, but more often disability is more insidious and occurs over a period of years as individuals slowly become less functional due to multitude of factors.
This is important because those in Congress and the higher reaches of Social Security tend to visualize disability as mostly associated with trauma but that’s wrong. Trauma is actually a relatively minor source of disability. It’s illnesses that accumulate and worsen over time. Often it’s more than one thing that disables a person. People try hard to fight off disability. Often they wait a considerable period of time after stopping work altogether before filing a claim. People don’t like to have to concede that they’re disabled.  This study shows the general decline in function and earnings that often occur prior to an individual ceasing work completely

 

What is the Trust Fund?

March 15, 2017

The Social Security trust funds are financial accounts in the U.S. Treasury. There are two separate Social Security trust funds, the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund pays retirement and survivors benefits, and the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund pays disability benefits.

Social Security taxes and other income are deposited in these accounts, and Social Security benefits are paid from them. The only purposes for which these trust funds can be used are to pay benefits and program administrative costs.

The Social Security trust funds hold money not needed in the current year to pay benefits and administrative costs and, by law, invest it in special Treasury bonds that are guaranteed by the U.S. Government. A market rate of interest is paid to the trust funds on the bonds they hold, and when those bonds reach maturity or are needed to pay benefits, the Treasury redeems them.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriage recognized by other states. This decision made it possible for more same-sex couples and their families to benefit from our programs.

SSA now recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships (such as some civil unions and domestic partnerships), for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits and Medicare, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  SSA also recognizes same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits and Medicare, and SSI.

Social Security does not discriminate against age, background, or sexual preference — securing today and tomorrow, equally and fairly, is our legacy. We encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for benefits to apply now. Learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

Citing his First Amendment rights and religious protections under the Civil Rights Act, a Social Security Administration judge in Texas who refused to watch an LGBT diversity training video is suing his superiors to avoid being fired, saying he was subject to a “religiously hostile work environment.”

 
Judge Gary Suttles said in a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Texas that the Social Security Administration, or SSA, should be barred from taking any disciplinary action against him at least until his religious discrimination claims are heard by a federal employment panel.

 
Though his complaint describes a “sterling work record,” Suttles was criticized and investigated by the SSA in 2015 after he scoffed at a Gulf War veteran’s post-traumatic stress disorder during a disability benefits hearing. Suttles questioned whether the veteran, a 44-year-old who served as a fueler on an aircraft carrier, had experienced true trauma during the war.

 
Suttles has a 15% reversal rate, meaning he turns down 85% of the claimants whose cases he hears. That’s an extraordinarily low number. By any standard, Suttles is an extreme outlier.

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