With the potential for a crisis in funding the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) looming in the next year or so, Congress may be interested in doing more than simply voting for the accounting sleight of hand that would reallocate funds from the FICA tax to cover the shortfall that results from the exhaustion of the SSDI trust fund.
Of course, the devil is always in the details, and the question could become one of what type of SSDI program should we have. The current model dates essentially from the 1950s, when it was presumed that someone who was “disabled” would never work again. But back then, women often spent a week in the hospital for the birth of their baby.
Should the SSDI program become more like that of some European nations, where a much greater emphasis is placed on keeping workers on the job or returning them to some type of work as soon as it is possible?
This could be beneficial to many disabled, allowing them both the greater income that could come from working and the social and psychological benefits of interacting with a broad spectrum of other workers.
The difficulty is this would probably bring opposition from some businesses and industries, which enjoy the opportunity to abandon workers who develop some type of disability and have no obligation to a worker who has been worn out by their work, and can now be easily replaced.
Congress would have to create financial incentives, like fines, penalties and taxes, that would make it in a company’s best interest to find ways to reintegrate disabled workers back into their business.
It remains to be seen if the current Congress is innovative or motivated enough to create such a solution.
The Huffington Post, “Modernize Disability Benefits So People With Disabilities Can Work,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, September 26, 2014