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PDI could help the SSDI program

Social Security Disability (SSD) is essential. The current SSD program is not replicated by anything provided by any other public or private entity. Many of those on the program suffer from conditions that are progressive in their disabling effects. This means that most of those who are approved for benefits will never become healthy enough to return to work.

This really is not surprising, due to the likelihood that if some disease or medical condition is serious enough to keep you out of work for 12 months, it may be serious enough to impair your ability engage in substantial gainful activity for the rest of your life.

With all the debate over what should be done to "save" SSD from the impending payment shortfall caused by the exhaustion of the SSDI trust fund, there is the suggestion that employers should be required to put in place private disability insurance (PDI).

This insurance, paid for by employers, would become the first place workers would turn for benefits once a disability developed. In the debate over SSD, there are often arguments raised regarding how the program provides disincentives for disabled workers to attempt to return to work.

This argument ignores the fact that most who are approved have a medical condition that prevents their working, and for large numbers of beneficiaries, no amount of "incentives" would allow their return to full-time employment.

If it were possible to implement a national PDI program, it would create one incentive that would be genuinely valuable. Employers would have a strong incentive to keep their workers healthy, and would likely have to offer sick time and healthcare benefits to working people to keep them healthy and prevent their needing to resort to a PDI or eventually SSD program.

Sadly, such a reform is not likely in near future.

Source: theatlantic.com, "Saving SSDI," Harold A. Pollack, August 31, 2015

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