The House just passed legislation that could freeze funding for Social Security for another year. In the Senate, there is discussion of cutting another 4 percent off the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) $10.5 billion budget. This trend is nothing new. Since 2010, Congress has cut the SSA’s operating budget by 11 percent. Now people who need disability benefits to survive are paying for these cuts with their time, means and lives.
How Does a Reduced SSA Budget Affect People Who Need Disability Benefits?
So far in 2017, 10,002 people applying for Social Security Disability benefits have died. The SSA suspects many of these people may have grown sicker due to their lack of income. This situation is only amplified by the estimated 633-day waitlist that 1.1 million Americans are sitting on—waiting to get a hearing and a chance to prove they can no longer work. But the Social Security Administration has a plan.
The Compassionate And REsponsive Service (CARES) plan was developed by the agency to reduce that waitlist. The CARES plan uses modernized information technologies, business practices and hiring more support staff and administrative law judges to reduce the massive backlog. But, if the SSA is not properly funded, then it cannot put this plan into action.
A funding freeze on the SSA could set the agency’s plans to reduce the waitlist back by five years. And given the rate at which people on the list are dying, thousands more could lose their lives while waiting for a solution to this problem. That means avoiding the waitlist has become a critical part of ensuring that people with disabilities get the benefits they need when they need them the most.
Large piles of paperwork, financial stressors and an extended wait make having help essential. An experienced attorney can help people with disabilities work get through this process, and in some cases, they can even help reduce the time you spend waiting on benefits. Hiring a disability attorney won’t break the bank either, considering attorney’s fees are 25 percent of the claimants backpay up to $6000. If you have suffered an injury that makes it impossible for you to work, contacting a disability attorney should be one of the first things you do.