The SSA (Social Security Administration) has a strict definition of disability. The agency provides disability benefits to eligible applicants who are unable to perform significant gainful activity on account of a severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or will last for at least a year or result in death. Determined on the basis of a comprehensive review of relevant medical records, this medical condition must be one that prevents the person from doing their previous work as well as other jobs that are available.
Here are some statistics regarding recent spending by the SSA.
- The spending hit a record of $944,143,000,000, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.
- This is estimated to be an increase by $33,748,280,000 from the $910,394,720,000 the Social Security Administration spent in FY 2014.
- In October, the first month of fiscal 2016, the number of SSI and SSDI beneficiaries increased by 94, 763 rising from 59,737,817 to 59,832,580. These beneficiaries include retired workers, spouses of retired workers, children of retired workers, survivors of deceased workers, disabled workers, spouses of disabled workers and children of disabled workers.
According to the 2015 annual report from the Social Security System’s trustees, the SSDI trust was expected to run out by late 2016. However, the new federal budget bill President Obama signed into law in the first week of November makes some important fixes that are aimed at reinforcing the finances of SS and Medicare. According to the new law, a portion of the FICA taxes have been reallocated to the disability trust fund in amounts sufficient to pay benefits until the year 2022.
- The new law will phase out two Social Security claiming strategies – file and suspend, and restricted application.
- Introduced in 2000 to encourage older workers to continue working, these were being used by married couples and divorced individuals to boost the payouts they would receive by as much as $100,000 or more over their lifetime.
- Congress eliminated these claiming strategies in the new budget bill since these features were being abused, mostly by affluent couples.
- By eliminating these “loopholes,” the government can save several billions of dollars each year.
The SSA has not as yet posted any notice regarding these changes on its official website. However, one has to wait until these are published and find out how one’s situation changes.