The GOP has a fresh strategy to attack Social Security: pitting older Americans against people with disabilities.
The Social Security trust fund supports retired workers, while the Disability Insurance Trust Fund provides for working people of all ages who become too disabled to work full time. According to the Social Security Administration, the trust fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2034, but the disability insurance fund will need to be replenished next year in order to avoid cuts of approximately 20 percent for its 8.9 million recipients.
Congress can keep both funds solvent through 2033 by simply shifting a small percentage of money from the trust to the disability insurance fund, according to the Social Security Administration. It has done this type of reallocation routinely almost a dozen times to shore up both funds.
But one of the first actions of the new House majority was to pass a rule change by a vote of 234-168 prohibiting any reallocation that isn’t accompanied by cuts to recipients or increases in revenue.
Rep. Sam Johnson, R- Texas, a chief proponent of the measure, said he is trying to keep the “fraud-plagued” disability program from “raiding” the retirement fund. This assertion is nonsense. Disability insurance fraud rates are miniscule. A 2013 Government Accountability Office report concluded that only about 0.4 percent of beneficiaries may receive payments they don’t deserve.
But get ready to hear politicians like Johnson peddle sensational anecdotes about scammers faking disabilities so they can collect payments.
The GOP can only achieve its elusive dream of gutting and privatizing Social Security by first creating an imaginary crisis. Don’t fall for it.
Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT. He can be reached at email@example.com. test