Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a financial lifeline for many disabled people in the US.  However, there is much being made of government reports showing that the program will face a very large shortfall in 2016 if steps are not taken to return it to solvency. The end of 2015 saw only the third year without an SSDI cost of living (COLA) increase since automatic COLAs were introduced in 1975. While the main program is not expected to run out of money anytime soon, the program’s reserve funds will be in danger of exhaustion sometime in late 2016. This reserve fund exhaustion triggers automatic cuts to benefits, which may be up to 20% from current SSDI payouts.

SSDI and Work

SSDI is available to disabled workers who have paid into the Social Security system (through payroll taxes) and qualify for Social Security benefits, are not old enough to retire, and can no longer work due to disability. The average monthly SSDI payment is around $1,000, but can vary depending on the recipient’s earnings. SSDI recipients can work, if they’re able, but are subject to strict rules on how much money can be earned. The expected cuts to SSDI benefits could represent $200 or more a month, leaving recipients with neither enough money to support themselves, nor an option for working longer hours to make up the difference.

Getting SSDI Benefits

SSDI is available to those who haven’t been able to work for an entire year. It’s intended to be a safety net for workers who become disabled before retirement age. However, many deserving individuals have been denied benefits for a variety of reasons. When a denial occurs, it can be appealed, but that’s a long and complex process. Even in the face of lower benefits, disabled individuals may not have any other option than filing for SSDI benefits and enduring the appeals process.

When to Contact Social Security Disability Lawyers

Social Security Disability lawyers often call disability appeals some of the most difficult cases they have, and for ample reason. Small details, missing documents, lack of documentation, and many other small problems can lead to an SSDI case being denied. Deserving disabled people may not get benefits to which they’re entitled, making it necessary to appeal the decision. The appeal process, though, can stretch out for months or years, driving to desperation those struggling to obtain benefits.