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Recent report provides data on future of Social Security

Many New Jersey residents worry about paying for their care and day-to-day expenses once they retire or if they suffer a temporary or permanent disability that creates an inability to work. For many people, the knowledge that social security disability benefits exist provides a great comfort. However, for people who may be relying on SSDI benefits in the future, it is important to understand the current state of the program providing these benefits.

Every year, the report from the annual trustees comes out regarding social security. The most recent report indicates that the trust fund for social security benefits will run out sometime between 2029 and 2041. Once the fund is exhausted, benefits will continue to be paid by the money coming into the system, although at an expected level of 77% of the benefits currently being paid out. Based on demographic and economic factors, the trustees foresee a better future for social security than in 2013. The situation is slightly different for the social security disability program, however, whose trust fund is expected to be depleted as soon as 2016. Once that happens, beneficiaries will receive an average monthly payment of $928 as compared to $1,146, which represents only 81% of a current disability benefits payout.

Although the SSDI program is separate from the overall Social Security program, any person who has worked and contributed to the system is eligible to receive benefits once he or she suffers an injury or illness that prevents him or her from continuing to work. Eligibility requires the presence of a disability lasting for one year or more, but people can-and should-start the process of applying as soon as a disability occurs, because it can take several months to begin receiving payments.

Many initial applications of those applying for SSDI benefits are denied, but that does not mean that the applicant should give up the hope of receiving benefits. Many second applications or appeals are approved, especially when prepared with the help of an experienced attorney. The application process can be complex, so knowing what to expect during the process and how to best complete the paperwork, gather the necessary paperwork and prepare for the hearing can increase the chance of success.

Source: LA Times, "Good news and warnings in the Social Security and Medicare reports," Michael Hiltzik, July 28, 2014

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