A recent article published by the New York Daily News, “Ailing, cash-strapped New Yorkers lie at mercy of feds’ bureaucratic hellscape,” describes the extreme challenges Americans face when applying for Social Security disability benefits.
“It is just awful. I am on the verge of bankruptcy,” the article quotes 59-year-old Elsie Nelson, a former Brooklyn school bus attendant with rheumatoid arthritis. She has been waiting on an appeal hearing since March of 2016.
With harsher limits placed on federal funding, the Social Security backlog has grown to massive proportions. Over one million applicants are waiting for benefits they need to survive, according to a recent Washington Post article.
During the review process, applicants are left to figure out how to pay for basic necessities like housing and medical care without an income; a delay that can be deadly. The Social Security Administration estimates that over 18,000 people across the country have died in the last year alone, waiting for help that never came.
“Five years ago, most cases were decided within a year, but the average processing time is now nearly double that — about 606 days,” the article states. “In the New York City area, however, waits are much longer, often stretching well beyond 700 days, according to data from the Social Security Administration.”
What’s causing the backlog? The article quotes Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Queens Democrat and Ways and Means Committee member:
“Instead of making common-sense investments, Republicans have cut Social Security’s budget. Because of these cuts, there are not enough examiners and judges available to make decisions about benefit applications, resulting in this outrageous backlog.”
He explains that such measures “are punishing people who are hurt through no fault of their own, and it has to stop.”
The article also quotes Republican Rep. Sam Johnson, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on Social Security, who “agreed the backlog was unacceptable but placed blame for the situation on the fact that the agency has not had a full-time commissioner since 2013.”
We must act now. This is not just a problem in New York, but in every state!
Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that the pain, suffering, and death caused by the backlog is unacceptable. As Americans, we must work together to protect Social Security and our society’s most vulnerable.
Contact your representatives TODAY and tell them to stand up for your rights. Find your elected officials’ contact information here (enter your zip code and click “Submit” for a full list including phone and web contacts).
To read the full New York Daily News article, click here.