Fixing SSDI

2015-1102 Out of Control

In an article written for Forbes, Eric Peterson tell us that “due to a host of economic and structural problems, and a spike in applications and fraud, “ the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund situation is in a more dire position than originally projected. He also stated “a recent report from the Social Security Inspector General found troubling issues” such as:

  • Overpaying half of program recipients a total of $17 billion.
  • Payment to people who were no longer disabled
  • Payment to people who are incarcerated
  • Payment to people who are dead

Peterson continues by suggesting “most American taxpayers are more than willing to fund a social safety net for those truly in need, but overpaying by billions of dollars because of bureaucratic ineptitude at the Social Security Administration is unacceptable.”

Consider This

SSDI and Unemployment Insurance (UI) were created to serve two different groups – SSDI for those unable to work due to a personal adversity, and UI for those who are temporarily unemployed due to an economic downturn or structural factor. However, Peterson notes a loophole “allows individuals to simultaneously ‘double dip’ from both SSDI and UI. In 2013 alone, approximately 117,000 individuals received $850 million in cash payments from both programs.”

With SSDI now solvent until 2022, Congress has time to consider reforms which will truly protect SSDI for the most vulnerable. However, I have a different idea.

My Opinion

During the past several decades, Congress and SSDI management have repeatedly failed to fix the problem. I am not a politician and I do not know the politically correct way to make the required changes happen, but here is what needs to happen to stop the financial bleeding:

Enlist help from a team of volunteers, including Project Management Office (PMO) personnel, several project managers, and project team members who rely on SSDI payments and want to fix the system.

  1. Reassign all management who are directly responsible for the financial problems at Social Security.
  2. Determine which management roles must be filled. Fill those roles with qualified government employees and retired professionals who have business, banking, technology, programming, process improvement, or insurance experience.
  3. Modify systems and processes that allow payment to incarcerated and deceased people. If financially feasible, collect all payments made to incarcerated and deceased people.
  4. Modify systems and processes that allow receiving payment from SSDI and UI if such “double dipping” is not allowed.
  5. Send letter to all recipients of over payments and clarify how future payments will be reduced by x%, or eliminated, until all over payment has been recuperated. Modify systems and processes to recuperate the money.
  6. Evaluate the feasibility of a different project to fix the SSDI investment strategy.
  7. Evaluate the feasibility of a different project to fix the SSDI renewal process.


Thanks to Eric Peterson for writing the article that inspired this post; Forbes for committing its resources to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly,  made it possible to include the picture and text in this post.

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