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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Social Security Reform: Potential Effects on SSA's Disability Programs and Beneficiaries
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In response to your request, we analyzed the five Social Security reform proposals that we have previously reviewed. These proposals include that of President Clinton as well as four of the proposals discussed in the 106th Congress: Archer-Shaw, Kolbe-Stenholm (H.R. 1793), Gregg-Kerrey-Breaux-Grassley (S. 1383), and Kasich. In these proposals, we identified 11 major types of provisions and examined their effect on trust fund solvency and DI benefits. We compared the benefits under these reform proposals with benefits under two alternative current-program scenarios that also achieve trust fund solvency: one that would maintain current benefits while increasing payroll taxes and another that would maintain current payroll tax rates while reducing benefits.

To analyze the effects of Social Security reform on DI trust fund solvency, we used estimates produced by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Chief Actuary as well as our estimates using the SSASIM policy simulation model. We also used the SSASIM model to examine the effects of these reforms on benefits that disabled beneficiaries receive. Our estimates using the SSASIM model are based on the intermediate assumptions reported in the 1999 Social Security Trustees Report because the Office of the Chief Actuary has scored only a few of the proposals we studied using the assumptions in the 2000 Social Security Trustees Report.

We analyzed the effects of Social Security reform on the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program as well as on the DI program because the solvency estimates are generally available for the combined programs only and because many disabled beneficiaries receive benefits from the OASI program. For example, more than 90 percent of the adult disabled children who receive Social Security benefits are dependents of deceased or retired workers and therefore receive OASI benefits. Disabled workers who have reached retirement age and their dependents receive benefits from the OASI program because DI benefits are automatically converted to retirement insurance benefits at the normal retirement age (NRA). (GAO)
Report
GAO-01-35
2001
Washington, D.C.
202-512-6000