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The future of disability benefits in uncertain economic times

Anyone who follows news on the Social Security Administration knows that its various programs are strapped for cash. The programs are running out of money and that could mean serious cuts in New Jersey residents' disability benefits. As it is, the administration may need to borrow from the Social Security retirement program, but that will take away from workers who have paid into the retirement program and expect to receive those benefits. The problem is, however, that people have also paid into the disability benefits program and want to be able to access those funds should they become disabled.

It is expected that the Social Security disability insurance program will run out of money in 2016, two short years from now. If it does, it will still be able to pay 80 percent of benefits from payroll taxes alone, but that will mean an automatic cut in benefits by 20 percent. With an average monthly disability payment of $1,146, the thought of a 20 percent cut is likely frightening.

While the number of workers receiving disability insurance benefits has increased by 45 percent over the last decade, the number of cases decided favorably by administrative law judges has fallen from 72 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2013.

When a case appears before an administrative law judge, the applicant has already been denied at least once. In order to successfully appeal the decision, an applicant must appear before a legally trained administrative law judge. The process can be complex, however, which is why many people rely on disability benefits lawyers when appearing before a judge.

Source: Boston Herald, "Report: Social Security judges rubber-stamp claims," June 10, 2014

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