Anyone who has listened to the news recently has probably heard chatter about how Social Security programs are endangered. The year 2034 is purportedly the first year that the Social Security program won’t have the funds to pay the expected benefits. This projection shows the importance of fixing programs that rely on the Social Security trust fund.
The stark reality is that if something isn’t done, beneficiaries will see severe cuts. The good news in all of this is that there is still time to make meaningful changes that can help minimize the impacts that beneficiaries will face.
Three possible avenues of change
One change that could make a huge difference is to tweak the way the cost of living adjustment (COLA) is set. As it stands now, the COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). It has been suggested that the method change to one based on the Chained CPI. The difference this makes per beneficiary would be a minor dip in the total COLA they would receive annually, but over time, the savings could make a big impact on the future of the program.
Another change that is being suggested is raising the retirement age from 67 to 70. This doesn’t mean that younger people can’t claim benefits. Instead, it raises the age at which workers qualify for 100% retirement. Some balk at this proposal because they feel this delays retirement too long and doesn’t leave time for retirees to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Finally, some are asking for changes in the taxes collected to fund the Social Security programs, including disability benefits. With the 2020 election looming, it is highly unlikely that this option will come to fruition soon. There is pushback from some factions that indicates that any stand, for or against, tax changes could result in a loss of votes.
On a positive note
It is no secret that disability applications can take a long time to be processed. Politicians have taken note of this and are seeking ways to clear the backlog of appeals. As they do this, the pressure is on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to find options for clearing claims.
This actually works in the favor of applicants. When you file your application or appeal, ensure that you have everything in order. Doing this can reduce the waiting time to get a decision about the benefits you need.