WASHINGTON – Area congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) announced this week that he will be supporting legislation that he says will help to protect social security.
Currently, social Security has two components, the disability insurance (SSDI) program and the much larger Old Age and Survivors Insurance program, for which almost all Americans become fully eligible when they reach retirement age. Congress has historically treated them as one system, moving money between one pot and the other if one is running short on funds and the other has plenty of money.
All signs show that the disability pot will be empty late next year if no action is taken. According to a report in the Washington Post, there is enough money in the larger pot to last until 2034, or to keep both programs solvent through 2033.
However, Reed is voicing his concern over shifting money from the regular SSI fund into the SSDI fund. The Corning Republican joined fellow Republican Sam Johnson of Texas as co-sponsor of an amendment to House Parliamentary Rules that prohibits congress from shifting money between the two funds. That rule was voted on and approved on Tuesday.
During this week’s conference call with local media, Reed stated that the new rule is designed to protect the SSI trust fund. He said rather than using SSI moneys to cover the cost of SSDI, congress should instead identify ways to reel in SSDI spending – with the most obvious solution being to cut down on fraud and abuse. He also said that lawmakers may have to consider changing the rules outlining who qualifies for the disability funding. Another option altogether is to find another funding stream to cover the cost of the current SSDI system, although that is unlikely to happen with the Republican Controlled Congress putting a focus on cutting back in spending.
The Washington Times report states that the effect of the rule appears to be to force Congress into a debate about Social Security next year instead of sometime before 2033. Without action from Congress, Social Security will be forced to cut disability payments to all recipients by about one fifth.