The idea of governments helping workers who are too disabled work is old.
Some of the earliest articles published in National Underwriter — one of the print publications that feeds articles into the LifeHealthPro.com website — dealt with debates about whether government protection of workers’ income was a practical social welfare strategy or a socialist plot that would lead to rampant malingering.
Now the debate is heating up again as government budget document fans are noticing that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is on track to exhaust its trust fund in 2016, about 20 years before the Social Security retirement program trust fund is due to go bust.
The program is going broke because the average age of the U.S. worker is increasing, the labor force has grown quickly, SSDI eligibility rules have changed, and the weak economy is affecting the ability of workers with disabilities to get and keep jobs, according to analysts at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The CBO analysts recently looked at 7 ideas for fixing the SSDI program and concluded that they aren’t sure how to get the train back on track quickly enough to do much good in the short run.
SSDI managers have, by definition, classified SSDI recipients as being people incapable of earning a meaningful amount of income from any job.
The CBO analysts looked at the idea that SSDI could stretch out its funds by, for example, moving to a partial disability system that would provide bigger benefits for the seriously disabled workers with even more serious disabilities and than other seriously disabled workers.
SSDI also could put more emphasis on getting workers with new disabilities back to work, the analysts say.
“Many of those alternatives have been implemented in various European nations,” the analysts say. “But the changes in policy that those countries have instituted generally have been in place for such a short time that their fiscal impact is uncertain.”
The CBO analysts say (in so many carefully worded words) that they think changes along those lines could help in the long run but probably aren’t going to work miracles by 2016.