The Social Security Administration Fairness Act, a bill that was proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders in June 2018, would make the SSDI application process easier for people who have disabilities by ending the five-month wait period, getting rid of the waiting period for Medicare eligibility, and reducing the backlog of cases. The bill would increase the funding of the Social Security Administration and end the closure of field offices so the agency is more accessible. However, there are some drawbacks such as an increase in the deficit of the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Trust.
What Would the Act Do?
The SSA Fairness Act proposes to set the funding of the SSA at 1.5 percent of its benefits payments. The administration had $952 billion in expenses in 2017 but only received $6.5 billion in funding. Since 2010, the agency’s funding has decreased by 9 percent while the number of beneficiaries has grown by 15 percent. Giving the agency more funds would help decrease the backlog of SSDI claims so disabled people could get the help they need much faster. The law would also do away with the waiting periods for Medicare eligibility after people are approved for SSDI.
Drawbacks of the SSA Fairness Act
The act would offer a lot of help to people who are disabled and are applying for SSDI benefits. It also has some drawbacks. An analysis of the proposed bill found that it would increase the existing deficit in the OASDI Trust. To cover the cash shortages that are projected in the fund over the next 75 years, payroll taxes would have to be increased. A person who makes $35,000 per year would need to pay an additional $30 to $60 annually in Social Security taxes.
While the bill would help people who have disabilities, it is unlikely to pass. It would make the long-term cash shortage worse, and Congress has done little to fix the existing problems. Congress is also highly partisan at the moment, and it is unlikely that Sanders would garner broad bipartisan support for his proposed legislation.
Although the act is unlikely to pass, it demonstrates that it is possible to fix Social Security and to make it more accessible to people who have disabilities. A future Congress may be more willing to do what is needed to fix the program.