WASHINGTON — The 11 million Americans who receive Social Security disability face steep benefit cuts next year, the government said Wednesday, handing lawmakers a fiscal and political crisis in the middle of a presidential campaign.

The trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare said the disability trust fund will run out of money in late 2016. That would trigger an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits, unless Congress acts.

The average monthly benefit for disabled workers and their families is $1,017. The typical beneficiary would see a reduction of $193 a month.

“Today’s report shows that we must seek meaningful, in some instances even urgent, changes to ensure the program is on stable ground for future generations,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, the chief executive officer of AARP.

In more bad news for beneficiaries, the trustees project there will be no cost-of-living increase in benefits at the end of the year. It would mark only the third year without an increase since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.

Separately, about 7 million Medicare beneficiaries could face a monthly premium increase of at least $54 for outpatient coverage. That works out to an increase of more than 50 percent.

The annual report card on the financial health of Social Security and Medicare shows that the federal government’s largest benefit programs are feeling the strain of aging baby boomers as they both approach milestone anniversaries.

Medicare and Social Security accounted for more than 40 percent of federal spending last year.

There was some good news: The trustees said Social Security’s retirement fund has enough money to pay full benefits until 2035, a year later than they predicted last year.

Medicare’s giant hospital trust fund is projected to be exhausted in 2030, the same date as last year’s report.

Advocates for seniors say that gives policymakers plenty of time to address both programs without cutting benefits.


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