In 2016, in my blog article 9 Social Security Reform Myths – Busted!, I warned readers that the Social Security trust fund was predicted to run out in 2034, leading to decreased benefits in the years that followed.  The 2018 annual report issued by Social Security’s Board of Trustees now predicts that full benefits will likely stop in 2032 but the silver lining is that current trends suggest there will be less of a steep drop in benefits after that.

Full benefits will stop a little sooner — but the partial benefits will start higher than analysts formerly predicted.

According to the June 2018 edition of NOSSCR’s Social Security Forum, “The 2018 Trustees’ Report finds that if Congress does nothing, the SSDI program would be able to pay 96% of promised benefits in 2032, compared to 93% of promised benefits in 2028 as stated in last year’s report.”

This means that according to current trends, even though disability recipients will start to see a reduction in benefits in 2032, the drop won’t be too steep.  According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly disability benefit is about $1,171 a month.  If we do the math, a 96% reduction would mean the average recipient would see about $47 less each month.  While it’s still a significant reduction, the outcome could be much worse.

What influences these predictions?

A few factors influence experts’ predictions on when Social Security will have to start dipping into its trust fund.  Statisticians look at data including the rate of applications, approved claims, and amount of benefits paid per month to help them predict how long Social Security can pay benefits without touching the interest-generating principal of the fund.

What does this news mean for today’s claimants?

While a gentler-than-predicted drop is certainly good news, the bad news inside the good news is that this better forecast is because judges have been denying more disability claims.  So, if you are thinking about filing a Social Security disability claim, it is very important to provide all the supporting evidence you can to avoid being denied.

How can I beat the trend and get my disability claim approved?

First, refer to my blog series, 4 Common Ways Social Security Disability Claims Get Denied When They Could Be Approved.

Second, make sure that all of your medical evidence is included with your claim.  You can find a list of accepted sources for medical evidence here.

Finally, sign up for a free evaluation with us at the Bailey Law Firm, where someone from our office will review your claim with you and tell you how likely it is that it will be approved, as well as what you can do to increase your chances.

If you have already filed a claim and it has been denied, here’s how to obtain a copy of your file from the SSA in order to review it with a disability attorney.

Joni Beth Bailey is a Southern Illinois disability representative.