The One Social Security Act

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

As an American citizen, you have no doubt heard of and are familiar with Social Security and the governing body that controls this program, the Social Security Administration. It is probably no surprise to you that social security is one of the largest government programs, and that social security benefits include retirement income (old age), disability income, Medicare/Medicaid, as well as death and survivor benefits. You are no doubt aware that nearly all Americans pay into social security (because, as an American, you probably do), and that more than 165 million workers are protected under Social Security benefits. Now that we have cleared up what you probably already know, lets take a look at something you probably don’t know: Social Security is in trouble.

In case you weren’t previously aware of this problem, let us take a few minutes to explain: currently, all Social Security benefits are paid out of two trust funds: the Disability Insurance Trust Fund pays Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and the OASI Trust Fund (Old Age/Survivor Insurance) funds the rest. A report in 2014 on the health of these trust funds revealed some bad news: although the OASI was relatively safe, the Disability Insurance Trust Fund was not in the greatest of health. As written in the report, ““the projected reserves of the DI trust fund decline steadily from 62 percent of annual cost at the beginning of 2014 until the trust funds are depleted in the fourth quarter of 2016. At the time that reserves are depleted, continuing income to the DI Trust Fund would be sufficient to pay 81 percent of scheduled DI benefits”. In other words, by the end of 2016, the 11 million Americans that draw these benefits will have to face a 19% cut in their social security disability insurance benefits.”

The One Social Security Act

This may all change, however, if Congressman Xavier Becerra and his supporters are successful in passing the One Social Security Act, a bill that proposes combining the DI and the OASI trust funds in order to a single, unified trust fund. By doing so, Congressman Becerra’s bill has the potential to resolve the problem of the depleting DI Trust Fund by allowing all beneficiaries of Social Security access to the $2.8 trillion[i]  currently held by Social Security – in other words, no one will face a cut in benefit payments.

This proposed move is, of course, drawing the attention of many supporters and disability advocates from all across the country. In the interests of clarity, here are the facts of the case, as outlined by Congressman Becerra[ii]:

  • The One Social Security Act is Legislation that would avert a 19% cut to disability benefits in 2016 by merging the OASI Trust Fund and the DI Trust Fund.
  • This move does not add a penny to the deficit or the debt, nor does it change Social Security’s overall financial situation
  • Pays all Social Security benefits using trust fund reserves that current beneficiaries helped build up through their own contributions.

Numbered among the many supporters of the One Social Security Act is Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. In a glowing letter of endorsement, Richtman writes the following of the bill:

While leaving intact all of the procedural and accounting rules that have, for so long, protected the integrity of the Social Security trust funds, your bill would resolve a looming problem that threatens the economic security of the 11 million disabled workers and their family members who depend on Social Security… Your bill allows Social Security to use all of its dedicated reserves to pay full benefits to all current beneficiaries.  It does not change the overall solvency of the Social Security system, and it contains no other changes to Social Security.  Equally important, it provides reassurance and peace of mind for the 11 million disabled Americans who depend on Social Security that they will not see their benefits cut by 20 percent simply because of accounting issues.”

To see a full list of organizations that have endorsed the bill, please click here. The full text of the One Social Security Act can be found on the congress.gov website.

How Can I learn more?

Thanks for taking the time to visit our blog today; we hope that we have passed on some valuable information about Social Security and the new One Social Security Act. Here at M&L, we would like to know your opinion on this proposed bill – do you think it is the right move to make? Do you feel that it will positively/negatively or have no impact on the financial situation of your family with special needs? If you have an opinion, please let us know! We would love to hear it. If you would like to learn more about this bill, please ask us – we would love to talk to you about this or any financial planning issues that you may be wondering about.

 

Again, thanks for dropping by – don’t forget to visit again next week!

[i] https://www.ncpssm.org/PublicPolicy/LettersTestimony/2015Letters/Documents/ArticleID/1430/Letter-Endorsing-One-Social-Security-Act

[ii] http://becerra.house.gov/one-social-security/

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