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Private insurance not viable fix for SSDI

The highly-publicized struggles of the Social Security Administration - due largely to budget woes - have drawn the attention of Congress, but not entirely in the way the agency might have hoped. Expanding retirement rolls and burgeoning claims for Social Security Disability Insurance have strained the agency's resources to such an extent that it is no longer keeping up. In fact, thousands of people have died while waiting to hear whether they qualified for SSD benefits.

Although Congress authorized a stopgap budget increase of $480 million for SSA, with $100 million earmarked for improving the SSDI claims process, much more needs to be done. Several Republicans in Congress have proposed an expanded use of private disability insurance as a means of shoring up the SSD program. But a lack of facts and concrete information has impeded a thorough review of the proposals.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog agency, analyzed three proposals that called for increasing the use of private disability insurance to take pressure off SSDI. The agency concluded that more information and data was needed before the proposals could be properly analyzed. However, based on the information at its disposal, GAO appeared skeptical.

Part of the challenge is that the types of workers who rely on SSDI are different from those who have access to private disability insurance. For the time being, then, private disability insurance is not in a position to change the way the SSD system works. In spite of the challenges that face an SSDI claimant, some things can be done to smooth the process. An experienced attorney can help ensure the initial claim is filed properly and that a claimant is well-represented at a hearing.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Social Security Disability Insurance: Information on potential implications of expanding private disability insurance," Apr. 10, 2018.

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