Social Security Reform:

Potential Effects on SSA's Disability Programs and Beneficiaries

GAO-01-35: Published: Jan 24, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 7, 2001.

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Barbara D. Bovbjerg
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There has been little analysis of how the various Social Security reform proposals might affect the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program. This report assesses the potential impact of these proposals on the solvency of the DI trust fund. GAO found that most disabled beneficiaries would receive higher benefits under the various Social Security reform proposals it reviewed than under a solvency scenario that maintained payroll tax rates while reducing benefits. However, most of the disabled beneficiaries GAO studied would receive lower benefits under three of the reform proposals reviewed than under a solvency scenario that maintained current-law benefits while raising payroll taxes. The proposals GAO studied treat DI beneficiaries similar to Old-Age and Survivor Insurance beneficiaries. However, the circumstances facing disabled workers differ from those facing retired workers. The differences between disabled workers and retired workers suggest that Social Security reform proposals should be viewed not only in light of their effects on retired workers but also explicitly for their effect on disabled beneficiaries and their families.

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