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Disability Insurance Observer: SSDI politics

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You might not have noticed, but we send out e-mail newsletters.

Other folks send out e-mail newsletters, too. One of the newsletters I’m getting is The Power Beat Daily, a publication from Americans for Limited Government (ALG). ALG says the government should play a limited role in the country’s economy. Some might describe the group as conservative.

The subject line on the latest ALG newsletter was, “Congress will address 2016 disability insolvency this year.”

Robert Romano, a commentator at the publication, and an affiliated website,, notes in the article  as we have at  that the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Insurance Trust Fund is set to run out of funds in 2016.

In other words: A major conservative organization thinks the problems with SSDI’s finances are important enough and interesting enough to use to attract visitors to their website.

House Republicans took some time out from probing last year to organize a series of interesting hearings on the financial and administrative problems at SSDI.

See also: GAO: Public SSDI claim help mostly a mystery

One wonders if the ALG newsletter ran an article about this serious, not very sensational subject because there weren’t any juicy scandals to cover, or because the people at ALG think the SSDI insolvency is a juicy scandal. If the latter: Maybe the ALG article could be the start of something big.

If the SSDI insolvency grows up to be the of 2015 and 2016: I hope members of Congress and other policymakers will come up with practical ideas and do right by people with serious disabilities when they debate SSDI fix proposals.

In the past, Congress has tackled the SSDI trust fund problems by shifting some old-age fund money into the SSDI pot. That helps extend the life of SSDI but brings the old-age benefits pot runs dry.

The ideal solution for the 2016 insolvency would:

  • Create a stand-alone SSDI fix, without forcing members of Congress to violate their conscience simply to keep SSDI going.

  • Get away from the idea that all SSDI recipients are completely disabled. We’ve all met SSDI recipients who have full-time, off-the-books jobs and look about as healthy as we do.

  • Provide as much help as possible for people who really can’t work.

  • Avoid making unrealistic promises simply because it feels good to make those promises, even though we have no money to fulfill those promises. Being honest with people about how tough the situation is, and giving them the information they need to try to make up for benefits gaps, is better than creating a castle in the sky that is all sparkle and no stone.