SOCIAL SECURITY: “A declining number of Americans receiving federal disability payments will allow lawmakers to postpone taking steps to address long-term imbalances in the system.
The annual report from the trustees of the nation’s largest entitlement programs revealed Thursday [7-13-17] that the trust fund for Social Security’s disability program will last until 2028, five years longer than previously projected, owing in part to lower-than-expected applications for disability benefits.
The Social Security system has two trust funds, one for disability and one for retirement. The fund for disability benefits is the smaller of the two—$46 billion for disability, compared with $2.8 trillion for retirement. The longer projection for the smaller fund means Congress isn’t immediately forced to grapple with looming shortfalls in any of its programs.
The overall financial health of the entitlement programs hasn’t improved, according to the report. If Social Security’s retirement and disability funds are combined into one program, their funds will be exhausted in 2034, unchanged from last year.
The trust funds were built when more people paid into the system than received benefits. As the population ages, benefit payments are projected to exceed revenues, drawing down fund balances. Under current law, when the trust funds are emptied, benefits from the programs will be abruptly reduced. The latest projections say retirement benefits would be slashed by 25%. The status of the funds is thus a potential trigger for reforms in the programs.”

-Josh Zumbrun, “Social Security, Medicare Face Depletion Within 17 Years, Trustees Say,” The Wall Street Journal online, July 13, 2017 06:50pm