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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Act Now! Tell Congress to Fully Fund Social Security’s Operating Budget

Just think about it: 575 days in limbo, struggling to pay bills, the stress mounting on your shoulders. 575 days of uncertainty, while basic needs go unmet. 575 days is far too long for our Social Security Administration to leave people’s lives in jeopardy.

But that’s the alarming reality. Today, a record one million Americans are waiting over 575 days on average for a hearing on their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability claims. These historic delays can be devastating. While waiting, many people struggle to pay their rent or mortgage, to cover their medical bills, and to put food on the table. Some lose their housing, and some even die.

Today’s backlog exists because Social Security’s operating budget has been cut by over 10 percent since 2010, while workloads have increased as the baby boomers age. In fact, Social Security has been forced to cut back on services across the board. Since 2010 Social Security has closed more than 60 field offices and 500 mobile offices.

Now, Congress is considering even more cuts. A funding bill in the House of Representatives would cut Social Security’s operating budget by over $250 million in 2017.

The impact would be even more devastating.

More people with disabilities would wait longer for a hearing on their Social Security and SSI claims. Under the House bill, the Social Security Administration would need to close all its offices for two weeks, since all employees would be furloughed. And a hiring freeze would lead to longer wait times and delays in all parts of our Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability system. The Senate version of the bill provides slightly more funding, but still fails to address many critical agency resource needs.

Social Security should be there for us when we need it.

That’s why we need you to contact your Members of Congress and tell them to fully fund the Social Security Administration.

President Obama has requested (PDF) funding for 2017 that would allow Social Security to begin reducing the disability claims backlog and to reduce other agency service delays.

Call your Members of Congress. Tell them:

  • I urge you to vote to fully fund the Social Security Administration’s operating budget, at the levels requested in President Obama’s 2017 budget.
  • Today, over 1 million people with disabilities are waiting over 575 days on average for a hearing on their Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability claims. This is an all-time high. Most people have little to no income while waiting for a hearing, and run the risk of financial ruin and worsening health the longer they wait.
  • Social Security’s operating budget has been reduced by 10 percent from 2010 levels. Any further cuts will lead to even longer, more devastating waits and reduced service to the public.
  • Americans cannot afford a Social Security Administration that is underfunded and understaffed.
  • Please ensure that Social Security’s operating budget is fully funded for 2017 at levels the President has requested.

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