There is no crisis: fixing the Social Security disability trust fund should be routine and noncontroversial

Senator Ron Wyden

Senator Ron Wyden

Social Security is one of the most popular, successful, and stable government programs in history. Social Security runs at a surplus, providing an essential lifeline to tens of millions of retired and disabled Americans, all without adding a penny to the national deficit.

Yet media reports seem to constantly claim that Social Security is in crisis. It is true that the Social Security disability trust fund will have a shortfall by 2016, unless Congress acts. But the solution is routine. Congress should reallocate funds  from the retirement trust fund to the disability trust fund, which would ensure that both trust funds are secure until 2033. Similar reallocations have taken place 11 times in the past, and have never been controversial.

On July 24, 2014, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled, “Social Security: A Fresh Look at Workers’ Disability Insurance.” Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) emphasized the importance of Social Security disability insurance, calling it “a lifeline that keeps hard-working Americans afloat in the event of catastrophic illness or disability.”

Wyden also emphasized that fixing the shortfall should be easy.

“In the past, reallocating resources within Social Security has always been routine and noncontroversial,” said Wyden.

Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, also spoke in favor of reallocation between the two trust funds. Such an adjustment, Richtman said, would “ensure Social Security’s solvency for the next twenty years without increasing contributions or decreasing benefits.”