The “Other” Social Security Issue: Disability Insurance

Since the George W. Bush Administration, Social Security reform has been atop the federal government’s list of top policy challenges. But when people talk about Social Security, they usually have in mind the Old Age and Survivors piece of the program. There is another critical element, however–Social Security Disability Insurance. And SSDI is suddenly getting lots of attention.

On Friday morning, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on SSDI. My fellow panelists will be former Social Security Commissioner Ken Apfel; Lisa Ekman, Director of Federal Policy at Health and Disability Advocates;  Gina Livermore, a Senior Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research; and Melissa Favreault, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute.

And we’re not alone. On Wednesday, the libertarian CATO Institute is holding its own SSDI program.

What’s driving all this attention? In part, it is because SSDI could become insolvent as early as 2016. This concept has limited meaning in the real world but it is an attention-getter.  The program has also been plagued by administrative inefficiencies and allegations of abuse. As a result, Congress is increasingly interested in changes.

I’ll have more to say about SSDI after Friday’s panel. But join us if you are in Washington or listen to an audio version that will be posted after the event. It should be interesting.