Inappropriate language

When we discuss "bailing out" someone or something, the implication is that it was because of bad behavior on behalf of the person or thing being bailed out. The direct reference is often to bailing out someone after an arrest. When someone is arrested and charged with a drunk driving offense, they may call their spouse or a friend to bail them out. When a business is failing, especially due to poor management, they may receive a loan that bails them out.

What is suggested when a journalist notes "Congress pledged last fall to address the issue, after bailing out SSDI in its budget deal -- using temporary measures to extend the program fund's solvency through 2022."

Most people reading this likely would think that Congress had to "save" Social Security Disability because of poor management by the Social Security Administration and due to fraud, likely enabled by the poor management.

As we have discussed before, the more recent financial problems with the SSD program and its trust fund are not a sudden crisis or due to recent failures or errors of administration of the program, but are almost entirely the result of Congress failing to take the advice of actuarial experts at SSA.

Congress has made numerous changes to SSD since the 1980s, often expanding the types of ailments and disabling conditions, but has done very little since the early 1990s to compensate for those changes on the benefits side of the program with changes to the funding side of the equation.

This makes it inappropriate to speak of Congress "bailing out" SSD. They more so bailed themselves out, and placed another temporary patch on the funding mechanism that will expire in two years and cause another "crisis." This will then demand yet another flurry of negotiations to "save" SSD, and eventually, the Social Security program as a whole.

Source:, "Steps to successfully apply for Social Security disability," Kelli B. Grant, February 1, 2016

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