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Social Security Disability funds may run dry by 2017

Many people in Pennsylvania rely on the disability benefits they receive each month. However, according to new congressional estimates, the Social Security disability benefits fund is expected to run out of money by 2017. In the two decades following that, Social Security's retirement fund is also predicted to run dry.

Social Security celebrated its 75th birthday last year, and the 2010 financial report card noted that it was the first time since 1983 that the program would give out more in benefits than it would receive in taxes.

The Great Recession and aging baby boomers have placed increasing amounts of stress on the disability program, with laid-off workers and the elderly relying heavily on the program. In the past decade, unemployment applications have increased by almost 50 percent because of the strained economy and the loss of nearly 7 million jobs.

In a faltering economy with a stagnant job market, many people with disabilities have lost their jobs. In a response that is only natural, many of those people are likely filing for Social Security disability benefits because they need the financial support to live.

According to the executive director of the Concord Coalition, too many politicians are focused on the short-term, like the long waiting period after applying for Social Security. He says that the Social Security system needs to be revamped to be a sustainable system, not a benefits system in constant need of money infusions.

In 2011, it is projected that about 3.3 million people will apply for federal disability benefits. That's an increase of 1 million in the past decade. In tough economic times, it is even more difficult for those with disabilities to find jobs after being laid off. Disability also becomes more prevalent in old age, and many people choose to apply for disability rather than wait for the ever-climbing retirement age.

Source: The Fiscal Times, "Social Security Disability Payments in Peril by 2017," 21 Aug. 2011

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