Unexpectedly Intriguing!
May 20, 2015

In April 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds projected that Social Security's Disability Insurance (SSDI) trust fund would likely peak in 2008 and then would be slowly drawn down until it ran out of money in 2025.

They were half right. Our chart below shows both how history really played out and how it would apparently appear to be on track to play out.

The Rise and Fall of Social Security's Disability Insurance Trust Fund, January 2001 through March 2015

Going by the apparently steady burn rate for the depletion of Social Security's Disability Insurance Trust Fund established since June 2011, the SSDI trust fund would appear to be on track to completely run out of money as early as October 2016.

Curiously, the 2009 Board of Trustees Report from May 2009, issued just one month before what would ultimately be the month that the National Bureau of Economic Research would identify as marking the end of the "Great Recession", indicates that they believed that the Disability Trust Fund would actually peak in 2009 and would last through 2020.

But then, Social Security's Board of Trustees in both years were perhaps not taking into the account the extent to which Social Security's Disability Insurance program would become a dumping ground for Americans whose jobs were displaced during the recession after their extended unemployment benefits ran out.

Nor perhaps were they appreciating the politically-driven expansions of the interpretation of what constitutes a disability that unscrupulous politicians and bureaucrats would adopt for the sake of reducing official unemployment rate figures by getting people who would otherwise be able to work onto Social Security's disability insurance benefits, where they would no longer be considered to be part of the U.S. civilian labor force and would therefore not be counted as being unemployed.

References

Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds. The 2008 Annual Report of the Board of
Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds. Table II.D1. -- Projected Maximum Trust Fund Ratios Attained and Trust Fund Exhaustion Dates Under the Intermediate Assumptions. [PDF Document]. 10 April 2008.

Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds. The 2009 Annual Report of the Board of
Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds. Table II.D1. -- Projected Maximum Trust Fund Ratios Attained and Trust Fund Exhaustion Dates Under the Intermediate Assumptions. [PDF Document]. 12 May 2009.

U.S. Treasury Department. Bureau of the Fiscal Services. Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) Archive. [Previous Issues]. Accessed 16 May 2015.

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