U.S. Congress Subcommittee Hears Plea for SSA Disability Funding
Posted on Jul 24, 2012
The Social Security subcommittee of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee held its fourth scheduled hearing June 27, 2012, to discuss Social Security disability insurance.
The meeting began with a look at the “big picture” of Social Security and disability. It was pointed out that the Social Security disability program was vitally important to millions of American citizens and that the average benefit to disabled workers is a little over $13,000 a year, or about $35 a day.
The prepared remarks continued with the following main points:
- Over half of all beneficiaries would live in poverty without Social Security disability.
- The eligibility criteria to qualify for benefits are stringent; it difficult to qualify.
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) receives over three million initial applications each year, and two-thirds of applicants are denied benefits,
- The appeals process is designed to ensure that all workers who have earned disability insurance will receive it.
- The state Disability Determination Service (DDS) makes the final decision on applications, but this service is sometimes not adequate and people who deserve benefits are turned down.
- Some people who apply are impeded in the process by their disabilities and do not understand the application.
- Sometimes doctors and hospitals do not send requested medical information quickly enough.
- Some people cannot afford health care, so they can’t prove their disabilities.
The hearing focused on the appeals process and what can be done to reduce waiting time in the appeals process. Those delays have lengthened in the last two years due to budget cuts by the “Republican-led Congress.”
A further cut of another billion dollars through the Budget Control Act is predicted. The committee was told that this cut would cause even more delays in determination that would “prevent appeals from being heard at all.”