In Georgia and across the United States, workers have spent much of their lives paying into a program that is designed to protect them if they become sick or disabled and can no longer work. Worker contributions to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are held in a trust fund that is separate from the fund for retirement benefits, known as Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). Unfortunately, both trust funds are in danger of insolvency unless something is done quickly.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued its annual report and unfortunately, when it comes to trust fund solvency, little has changed since the previous year. Often the report’s projections add more time to the projected insolvency dates from year to year, but that is not the case with the current report. This means that current and future recipients of Social Security Disability, Retirement and Survivors benefits are one year closer to seeing a reduction in or loss of such benefits.

Since 1982, incoming payroll deductions along with interest earned on bonds that are held in the trust funds have fully covered the benefits that SSA has paid out. This year, however, SSA trust funds are expected to run a combined deficit of $2 billion. This means that to pay out all the benefits, the money will have to come from the trust fund principal, drawing it down.

If nothing is done, at the current rate of draw-down, the disability insurance trust will hit zero in 2032, and the retirement trust will dry up shortly thereafter in 2034. At that time, SSA projects, recipients will see a 23 percent reduction in the benefits they receive. Lawmakers can still do something to shore up the programs, but they must act soon.