The near total disappearance of employer-sponsored defined benefit plans is making Social Security Disability Insurance more vital to Americans, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare lobbyist Webster Phillips told Congress Wednesday.

In explaining how critical disability payments have become, Phillips said one of three of the disabled have no other sources of income and the thresholds to receive benefits is one of the most severe in the developed world.

“It isn’t uncommon for veterans with severe service-connected disabilities to be denied when they apply for SSDI. One in five men and one in six women dies within five years of being approved for benefits,” the benefits lobbyist said in written testimony to a House Social Security subcommittee hearing.

The hearing came as the 2016 projected bankruptcy of the disability trust fund nears, but money would still be coming into the system through dedicated taxes.

If the trust fund goes to zero, workers and their families would see a 20 percent decline in benefits.

It’s a scenario unlikely to happen as Congress is expected to shift money from the regular Social Security trust fund to disability as it has done 11 times since 1956.  

Disability payments averaging $1,165 per month go to nine million former workers and two million spouses and children.