Budget Deal Pushes Disability Reform to Backburner

The budget deal hammered out by President Obama and the Republican-led Congress likely has ruled out major changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance program until 2021 or later.

The deal averted the expected 2016 exhaustion of the trust fund for the disability program, and a corresponding 19 percent benefit cut for disabled workers, by redirecting payroll taxes from the larger retirement program to the disability program.

The result is that the disability trust fund is extended through 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

To some Republicans and outside experts, 2021 is now the soonest that Congress can attempt a broader reform of the disability program to address its long-term funding programs. Many had hoped that such an effort would be tied to a vote to reallocate funds between the two Social Security programs.