The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on October 26, 2023, to question the acting assistant deputy commissioner of operations from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) about the decades old systemic problems that affect millions of Social Security Disability (“SSD”) applicants. If you ever applied for SSD benefits, or know someone who has, then you probably already know about these problems.
The SSA is supposed to help people who are eligible for SSD benefits when they become too ill to work. However, the application process is antiquated, customer service is almost non-existent, the wait time to speak to someone on the phone averages 35 minutes, and the wait time for a decision is ridiculously long.
Some of our clients retain us after they have applied on their own, and they realize that trying to navigate the SSA’s system is extremely stressful and difficult. We take that burden off of them and make certain that the SSA has no direct contact with them. Our clients would rather be working than applying for SSD, but due to any number of medical conditions, cannot work on a full-time basis. But trying to stay afloat while the SSA makes a decision is almost impossible for many of our clients. We have had clients pass away while waiting for a decision, and the SSA just does not seem to care. The SSA simply blames the delays on backlogs and lack of staff.
David Camp, interim chief executive of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, also testified at the hearing. He explained how changing some of the SSA’s rules and regulations, which are ineffective and old, could reduce the wait time for a decision, and free up the State agencies’ analysts to work more efficiently. These common sense changes could make a huge difference in many people’s lives. Of course, the members of the Ways and Means Committee would have to agree to continue to fund the SSA, because any cuts to their budget would be detrimental for anyone that is trying to obtain SSD benefits.
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