Social Security and its disability insurance component are perhaps among the most relied upon and misunderstood fibers of the American social fabric. It’s a surprising state of affairs when you consider how important the system is.
It’s in light of this reality, and the fact that Social Security is becoming a major political issue, that we feel it appropriate to list some of the ABCs about the system. The hope is that with this information at hand, it might stifle the spread of misinformation and help encourage levelheaded, rational discussion about what steps should be taken to ensure the system’s long-term viability.
Most everyone is likely aware that Social Security, as a broad umbrella subject, is the government program intended to help American workers in their retirement years. It also is structured to provide some financial support to families when a spouse or parent dies. Social Security Disability Insurance is that element of the program that is supposed to help workers who become disabled make ends meet.
How the system is funded and how benefits are paid is the source of a lot of heated rhetoric. Here’s the short and sweet of things. There are two trust funds operated by the Treasury. Each is fed mainly by Social Security taxes individuals have deducted from their paychecks. General revenue coming from other sources makes up a smaller proportion of the fund balances. One fund pays for the retirement and survivors insurance program. The other pays for disability benefits.
The government estimates that more than 59 million people received benefits in 2014, amounting to $863 billion paid; that’s for all retired workers, disabled workers, their dependents and survivors of dead beneficiaries.
The Social Security Administration says that for every person receiving benefits there are 2.8 workers contributing to the two trust funds. By 2033, the estimate is that the ratio will be 2.1 workers to each beneficiary.
Those are some of the high-level numbers related to Social Security and SSDI. But as many in California are likely aware, complications and frustrations can develop in the detailed processes of applying for benefits and appealing denials of claims. To meet those demands, an attorney’s help is recommended.