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House Hearing Appears To Provide Consensus From Panelists On Trust Fund Reallocation

2015 February 26
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by Steve Perrigo

The Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee appeared to provide consensus from panelists at Wednesday’s hearing that it will be necessary to reallocate funds between the Old-Age & Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) trust funds as a near-term fix for the anticipated shortage next year.

Comments from Republican and Democratic subcommittee members focused on the need to avoid a 20-percent benefit cut to SSDI recipients, which is the estimated reduction needed if the DI Trust Fund reaches its reserves exhaustion in 2016, according to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Chief Actuary.

The hearing on “Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund’s Solvency,” began with partisan statements. The second half, following a recess, offered a more conciliatory tone and focused on solvency options with panelists. In general, members signaled the need to create a combination of tax and benefit-reduction solutions, such as altering the cost-of-living adjustment formula and broadening the tax base.

Panelist Charles P. Blahous III, public trustee on the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, also outlined policy matters in his written testimony that could be addressed legislatively by Congress, including:

  • The uniformity of disability award standards.
  • Continuing disability reviews (CDRs).
  • Return-to-work efforts.

The hearing concluded with several subcommittee members committing to an approach that involves everyone’s vested interests in reaching a resolution. “Everyone is going to pinch a little bit,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, when discussing the process of formulating the solvency package.

The panelists’ written testimony can be found online.

Look for a webcast of the hearing, Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust Fund’s Solvency, to be posted in the video archive.

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